Billy Elliot trio dance into prime position for Olivier prize
They are only adolescents, and hardly household names. But the young boys who take it in turns to star as Billy Elliot will battle it out with the Guys And Dolls stars Ewan McGregor and Douglas Hodge for the title of best actor in a musical at this year's Laurence Olivier Awards.
James Lomas, 15, George Maguire, 15, and Liam Mower, 13, get a collective nomination in a haul of nine - including best director for Stephen Daldry - secured by the stage adaptation of the film. They are the youngest actors to be shortlisted in the 30 years of the awards.
Daldry said: "I am absolutely delighted, particularly for the boys who for more than two years have worked incredibly hard and continue to dazzle and amaze me." With eight chances of success, the Guys And Dolls director Michael Grandage can scarcely be regretting his decision to persuade McGregor to make his West End musical debut.
There were also multiple nominations for several heavyweight productions, notably six for Don Carlos by Friedrich Schiller starring Derek Jacobi.
In what proved an astonishing year for the 18th-century German playwright, the Donmar Warehouse production of Schiller's Mary Stuart also receives a clutch of nominations.
Its co-stars Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter go head-to-head as best actress in an impressive shortlist which also includes Eve Best's acclaimed Hedda Gabler.
Hedda Gabler, by Henrick Ibsen, transferred to the West End from the Almeida in London, helping to distribute nominations fairly equally between the capital's leading venues. The National Theatre secured seven, principally for the new play, Coram Boy, adapted by Helen Edmundson from a novel by Jamila Gavin.
The Royal Court, the traditional home of new writing, gets one shot at the best new play title, with Richard Bean's work on pig farming, Harvest, while the National secures three - for Coram Boy, On the Shore of the Wide World by Simon Stephens and Paul, the examination of the life of the apostle, by Howard Brenton.
Other productions to be recognised include the Young Vic's A Raisin in the Sun, The Big Life, which was the first British black musical in the West End, and Frank McGuinness's Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, for which David Threlfall gets a shot at best actor.
His rivals include the American Brian Dennehy for his performance as Willy Lomax in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Derek Jacobi in Don Carlos and Richard Griffiths for Heroes.
The nominations threw up some oddities. Though the critics had reservations about Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques - the Musical! it is up for three awards. Ducktastic, the latest show from the Right Size duo directed by Kenneth Branagh, has a best entertainment nomination despite poor audiences which forced it to close early.
The winners will be announced in London on 26 February.
* Eve Best for Hedda Gabler
* Clare Higgins for Death Of A Salesman
* Helen McCrory for As You Like It
* Janet McTeer for Mary Stuart
* Brian Dennehy for Death Of A Salesman
* Richard Griffiths for Heroes
* Derek Jacobi for Don Carlos
* Con O'Neill for Telstar
* David Threlfall for Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
* Haydn Gwynne for Billy Elliot - The Musical
* Jane Krakowskfor Guys And Dolls
* Jenna Russell Guys And Dolls
* Julie Walters for Acorn Antiques - The Musical!
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
* Douglas Hodge for Guys And Dolls
* Ewan McGregor for Guys And Dolls
* James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower for Billy Elliot - The Musical
* Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliot - The Musical
* Richard Eyre for Hedda Gabler
* Michael Grandage for Don Carlos
* Phyllida Lloyd for Mary Stuart
* Melly Still for Coram Boy
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
Hitler painting sells for 130,000 euros at auction despite controversy over Nazi dictator's artworks
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall sent home after dance off with Sunetra Sarker
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked clip of Lana Del Rey rape video
Band Aid 30: 'Do They Know It's Christmas' storms to number one
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'