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Heavyweights Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh lead Olivier nominations

Imelda Staunton, in Gypsy, is up for the best musical performance award. Photo: Johan Persson Imelda Staunton in Gypsy. Photo: Johan Persson
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IN DETAIL: Click here for a full list of this year’s nominations

Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh are among the performers nominated for awards as part of the 2016 Olivier Awards.

Musicals Gypsy and Kinky Boots receive the most nominations, up for eight and seven nominations respectively.

Rylance and Branagh are nominated for best actor for Farinelli and the King and The Winter’s Tale respectively. The other nominees are Benedict Cumberbatch for Hamlet, Kenneth Cranham for The Father and Adrian Lester for Red Velvet, in a year in which big-name talent dominates the acting categories.

Gemma Arterton’s performance in Nell Gwynn earned her a best actress nomination. The nominees also include Denise Gough For People, Places and Things, Nicole Kidman for Photograph 51, Janet McTeer for Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Lia Williams for Oresteia.

Dench, who is nominated for best supporting actress for The Winter’s Tale, receives her 15th nomination. The shortlist also includes Michele Dotrice, Melody Grove and Catherine Steadman.

In the supporting actor category, Mark Gatiss, Michael Pennington, Tom Sturridge and David Suchet all receive nominations.

Staunton receives her 11th Olivier award nomination, for Gypsy, in the best actress in a musical category.

Staunton said she was “very proud” to have been nominated, adding: “We knew that [the show] was a great night for the audience, and we knew the work that we put into it. If you have those two elements then you’ve got a great night, and that’s what it’s all about – making sure that the show is true to what is on the page. I think we did that in spades.”

She is nominated alongside Tracie Bennett, who is up for Mrs Henderson Presents, Natalie Dew, who is nominated for Bend It Like Beckham, Laura Pitt-Pulford, who is up for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Sophie Thompson, whose nod is for Guys and Dolls.

Guys and Dolls’ David Haig and Jamie Parker are both nominated for best actor in a musical alongside Ian Bartholomew for Mrs Henderson Presents and both Matt Henry and Killian Donnelly for Kinky Boots.

Donnelly said: “Because Kinky Boots was from Broadway, we were wondering how it would be received here, but it’s a lovely thing that audiences love it, and it’s amazing to be in a category with Matt. That is in itself a prize and a pat on the back.”

Farinelli and the King, The Father, Hangmen and People, Places and Things are all up for best new play, while the category for best revival includes Hamlet, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Winter’s Tale.

Elsewhere, Kinky Boots, Bend It Like Beckham, In the Heights and Mrs Henderson Presents are all nominated for best new musical, with Bugsy Malone, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers all nominated for best musical revival.

In the Heights choreographer Drew McOnie – who also gets a best choreographer nomination – said the show was “receiving the recognition it deserves”.

“Being put up there with the big players means everything to us,” he added.

Branagh and Rob Ashford are jointly nominated for best director, alongside Matthew Dunster for Hangmen, Robert Icke for Oresteia and Jonathan Kent for Gypsy.

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