Matilda the Musical leads the race at this year's Olivier theatre awards with a maximum possible 10 nominations.
These include a collective nod for all four young actresses who play the title role in the RSC production.
Comedies One Man, Two Guvnors and The Ladykillers lead the way in the plays category with five nominations each.
Winners will be announced at the Olivier Awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House on Sunday 15 April, hosted by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
The nominations were announced in central London by 2011 Olivier Award winners Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam.
"This year's nominations show the strength and depth of what's playing in London at the moment," said Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre (Solt).
He said One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda were examples of the subsidised sector and the commercial sector "working well together".
Both started life in the subsidised sector - Matilda at the RSC and Guvnors at the National - and have transferred into mainstream West End theatres.
Matilda, which is at the Cambridge Theatre, has the maximum number of eligible awards for a musical this year.
Featuring songs by comedian Tim Minchin, it is based on Roald Dahl's children's book about a girl with special powers.
The show opened in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, and transferred to London's West End last year, where it continues to sell out.
Bertie Carvel is nominated for best actor in a musical for his star-making turn as child-tossing tyrant Miss Trunchbull.
Paul Kaye, who plays Matilda's odious father Mr Wormwood, is up in the best supporting actor in a musical category.
"It's a hymn to literacy and wonderful funny, funny show," Matilda's executive producer Andre Ptaszynski told the BBC after the nominations were announced.
"We in commercial theatre do great shows often, but subsidised theatre is the developing process for great, deep theatre talent - it is one of this country's greatest assets."
Matilda faces competition in the best new musical category from Betty Blue Eyes, Ghost the Musical, London Road and Shrek the Musical.
Ghost, at the Piccadilly Theatre, and the National Theatre's musical London Road - about the 2006 murders of prostitutes in Ipswich - have five and four nominations, respectively.
The nominees for best new play are the National Theatre's Collaborators and One Man, Two Guvnors, Jumpy at the Royal Court, and The Ladykillers at the Gielgud.
Ladykillers producer Edward Snape said he was "delighted" with the play's five nominations.
The stage version of the classic Ealing comedy, written by Graham Linehan, transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in November after a short run at Liverpool Playhouse.
"It is wonderful for an independently-produced play - collaborating with Liverpool Playhouse - to come into the West End on its own without any subsidy," Snape said.
One Man, Two Guvnors star James Corden is up for best actor against David Haig for The Madness of George III, Douglas Hodge for Inadmissible Evidence, and Jude Law for Anna Christie.
The category is completed by a joint nomination for Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for Frankenstein.
The pair alternated in the roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature on different nights in Danny Boyle's production at the National Theatre.
Best actress nominations go to Celia Imrie for Noises Off, Lesley Manville for Grief, Kristin Scott Thomas for Betrayal, Marcia Warren for The Ladykillers, and Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie.
Directors Sean Foley (The Ladykillers), Nicholas Hytner (One Man, Two Guvnors), Rufus Norris (London Road) and Matthew Warchus (Matilda The Musical) are recognised in the best director category.
The National Theatre leads the way for plays with 15 nominations in total. These include One Man, Two Guvnors, Frankenstein, new plays Grief and Collaborators, and London Road.
"Last year was a tremendous year for the National," said Terri Paddock, managing and editorial editor of theatre website Whatsonstage.com.
"What I love about the shows its been nominated for is the huge diversity of what they're doing - One Man, Two Guvnors and London Road couldn't be more different."
Presented by the Society of London Theatre since 1976, the Olivier award winners are decided by a panel of industry professionals and members of the public.
This year sees the show graduate from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden.
Theatre fans outside the venue will see live performances from some of the West End's biggest shows, while the ceremony will be relayed on a big screen.
The ceremony will also feature a live link-up to New York where several British shows - including One Man, Two Guvnors, War Horse and Ghost the Musical - have transferred or are about to open Broadway.
Matilda the Musical will transfer to Broadway in 2013.
Solt's Julian Bird said: "We want to celebrate the close links between London and New York - and what better year to do it when three mega hits from here are going out there."
Terri Paddock added: "It is a really good time for British products going to New York, and British producers very much see Broadway as their stomping ground as much as the West End."
Last year's big winners at the Oliviers were After The Dance and Legally Blonde: The Musical.
The full list of 2012 nominees can be foundon the Olivier Awards website.
The BBC will be covering the Olivier Awards on Sunday 15 April with live TV coverage via the red button, on Radio 2 and online.