Behind the scenes with stars in the West End

Photos of actors James McAvoy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Mark Strong and Gemma Arterton backstage

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The Olivier Awards are on Sunday, which makes these backstage photographs of many of the nominated actors and West End shows particularly timely. They are taken by Matt Humphrey as part of his Curtain Call project with the actor John Schwab and will culminate in an annual book of backstage theatre photography, which will have its first publication in 2016.

James McAvoy, nominated for Best Actor in The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Studios, is checking his hair and costume by torchlight backstage, seconds before walking on for another scene. Mark Strong, also nominated for Best Actor for A View from the Bridge at Wyndham’s Theatre (and previously the Young Vic), is pictured lying down on stage stretching his limbs, during his warm-up on (the Olivier-nominated) set.

Best Actor nominee Tim Pigott-Smith, star of King Charles III at Wyndham’s, which transferred from the Almeida, is putting on his gloves in his dressing room while dressed in full royal regalia as the King. The front-of-house staff are shown playing cards during a performance in the room where the royal robe has been laid out for the final scene.

Former Olivier Award-winning actress Nicola Walker and Phoebe Fox, who is nominated this year for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for her performance in A View from the Bridge, are seen getting ready at their shared dressing room table.

Gemma Arterton, nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre, is photographed from the wings, holding her arms up triumphantly in the air after her final song.

Geoffrey Streatfeild, one of the stars of My Night with Reg at the Apollo Theatre, which is nominated for Best Revival, plays darts on the company dart board during a performance, while Brandon Victor Dixon who is nominated for Best Actor in a Musical in The Scottsboro Boys  at the Garrick Theatre waits in a front of house stairwell before he goes onstage.

“What we are trying to do is to show the inner workings of a production – the crew, and designers, as well as the cast,” says Humphrey, whose first project was photographing actors backstage at the Old Vic in 2008. “Our new book will reveal unprecedented access behind the scenes in the West End.”

‘Curtain Call’ will be published in 2016. For more information (