Entertainment & Arts

Theatre's Olivier Award winners to be announced

Helen Mirren, James McAvoy
Image caption Helen Mirren is nominated for her role as The Queen while James McAvoy is up for his role in Macbeth

Stars of the stage are in London for the annual Olivier Awards - the biggest night in the theatre awards calendar.

Dame Helen Mirren is up against Billie Piper in the best actress category, while James McAvoy and Rupert Everett are in the running for best actor.

Murder mystery The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time leads the pack with eight nominations.

Hugh Bonneville and Sheridan Smith are hosting the ceremony at Covent Garden.

Dame Helen is nominated for her role as The Queen in The Audience, which has five nominations in total.

Peter Morgan's play is inspired by the Queen's weekly meetings with her prime ministers.

Image caption Daniel Radcliffe is presenting the best actress award

Billie Piper is nominated for her role in clinical drugs trial drama The Effect, while the best actress category is completed by Hattie Morahan for A Doll's House and Kristin Scott Thomas for Old Times.

The best actor race sees Curious Incident's Luke Treadaway up against Rupert Everett's Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, Mark Rylance for Twelfth Night, Macbeth's James McAvoy and Rafe Spall for Constellations.

Both Macbeth and Twelfth Night are up for best revival, along with with Long Day's Journey Into Night and Old Times.

Speaking on the red carpet ahead of the ceremony, the director of Macbeth, Jamie Lloyd, described British theatre as "one of the most exciting things in town," and credited the play's lead actor McAvoy, who began his career in theatre, as "the real deal".

"It's great for audiences to be able to come and see a film actor in stage," added Lloyd.

McAvoy told the BBC last week: "The last time I got nominated for an Olivier I was up against Mark Rylance and I didn't win it because you can't beat him. He's the best actor in the world."

Image caption Top Hat is in the running for best new musical

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens, premiered at the National's Cottesloe Theatre last year and has now transferred to London's Apollo Theatre.

Treadaway plays 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a maths genius with Asperger's syndrome, who sets out to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour's dog.

On playing the role, Treadway said: "He's an amazing, complicated, rich character to play."

Curious Incident and The Audience are joined in the best new play category by Nick Payne's multi-verse drama Constellations and This House, James Graham's political drama at the National Theatre.

Other shows with multiple nominations include new musical Top Hat, with seven, and the revival of Sweeney Todd, with six. Kiss Me, Kate has five nominations and Constellations has four.

Sweeney Todd's Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are up for best actor and best actress in a musical, for their respective roles as the demonic barber and the pie-making Mrs Lovett.

Ball competes against Alex Bourne for Kiss Me, Kate; Chambers for Top Hat; and Will Young for his role as the Emcee in Cabaret. Staunton's competition is Heather Headley for The Bodyguard, Hannah Waddingham for Kiss Me, Kate and Top Hat's Summer Strallen.

Speaking on the red carpet, Young said: "I've got a one in four chance. You can do anything with the Emcee. He's the definition of a psychotic man."

The actor, who is performing at the ceremony added: "I've got to get out of this suit and into a lot of leather."

Cabaret is also up for best musical revival with A Chorus Line, Kiss Me, Kate and Sweeney Todd.

Image caption Will Young is nominated for his role as the Emcee in Cabaret

Billy Elliot the Musical, Matilda the Musical, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked are shortlisted for the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award - the only Olivier Award voted for by the public.

English National Opera gets three out of four nominations for best new opera production - Billy Budd, Caligula and La Traviata are up against the Barbican Theatre's Einstein on the Beach.

Nominations for best new dance production and outstanding achievement in dance are all split between The Royal Ballet and Sadler's Wells.

Gillian Lynne, whose choreography credits include more than 50 shows including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, and playwright and novelist Michael Frayn are to be honoured with awards for outstanding contributions to theatre.

The full list of nominations is available on the Olivier Awards website.

The ceremony will be covered live on BBC Radio 2 from 18:00 and television highlights package will be shown on ITV later in the evening.

At last year's awards, Matilda the Musical set a new record by winning a total of seven trophies.

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