BBC

London

Some of the biggest names in theatre will gather later at the Royal Opera House in London for the annual Olivier Awards.

Dame Judi Dench, Anne-Marie Duff and Chiwetel Ejiofor will be among stars handing out the prizes on Sunday night. Memphis the Musical leads the pack with nine nominations, while Beautiful - The Carole King Musical has eight.

The Oliviers, now in their 39th year, celebrate the London theatre scene. This year's host is Lenny Henry. The best actor race sees Mark Strong and Richard Armitage nominated for their roles in Arthur Miller plays A View from the Bridge and The Crucible respectively.

They are up against James McAvoy for The Ruling Class and Tim Pigott-Smith for King Charles III. The latter, Mike Bartlett's blank verse vision of a future monarchy, has six nominations in total, including best play and best director for Rupert Goold.

Also up for best play are the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, "dark net" thriller The Nether, and Taken at Midnight - which stars best actress nominee Penelope Wilton as the mother of a young German lawyer imprisoned by the Nazis.

Joining Wilton on the best actress shortlist are Gillian Anderson for A Streetcar Named Desire, Dame Kristin Scott Thomas for Electra, and Imelda Staunton for Good People. In the best new musical category, Memphis and Beautiful face competition from the Kinks-inspired Sunny Afternoon and Here Lies Love. Based on the life of Imelda Marcos, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's musical transformed the National Theatre's Dorfman stage into a nightclub.

Dame Angela Lansbury is up for best supporting actress for her role as eccentric medium Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. "No one can stand in the way of Angela Lansbury winning an Olivier for her West End comeback after over 40 years away, and no one should," said theatre critic Mark Shenton in his list of predictions for The Stage.

The veteran actress is up against Phoebe Fox for A View From the Bridge, the girls playing Iris for The Nether, and Lydia Wilson for King Charles III.

The ceremony will include performances from many of this year's nominated shows. Best actress in a musical nominees Beverley Knight and Katie Brayben will perform songs from Memphis and Beautiful.

Also up for best actress in a musical are Gemma Arterton, for her first on-stage singing role in Made in Dagenham, and Tamsin Greig for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Cats star Nicole Scherzinger, who is up for best supporting actress in a musical, will sing Andrew Lloyd Webber's song Memory.

Cats is nominated for best musical revival along with City of Angels, Miss Saigon and the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.