Cafe de Paris, where the launch of the WhatsOnStage Awards took place
Cafe de Paris, where the launch of the WhatsOnStage Awards took place

The 16th annual WhatsOnStage Awards nominations shortlists have been announced today in a ceremony in London.

Hamlet, In the Heights and Kinky Boots lead, with nine nominations each, while Gypsy has been nominated eight times and American Idiot seven. Chichester Festival Theatre has also scored 12 nominations across two shows, Gypsy and Mack and Mabel.

Best actor nominations are Benedict Cumberbatch for Hamlet, James McAvoy for The Ruling Class, Bradley Cooper for The Elephant Man, Mark Rylance for Farinelli and the King and Alex Hassell for Henry V.

Best actress nominations are Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51, Denise Gough in People, Places and Things, Lia Williams in Oresteia, Rosalie Craig in As You Like It and Harriet Walter in Death of a Salesman.

In the best new play category Martin McDonagh's Hangmen, Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer, Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, Duncan Macmillan's People, Places and Things and Claire van Kampen's Farinelli and the King have all been recognised.

In the musical categories, both Killian Donnelly and Matt Henry have been nominated for best actor in a musical for Kinky Boots, alongside Michael Ball for Mack and Mabel, Sam Mackay for In The Heights and Ben Forster for Elf the Musical.

Best actress in a musical nominations are Imelda Staunton in Gypsy, Beverley Knight in Cats, Kimberley Walsh in Elf The Musical, Lily Frazer in In The Heights and Katie Brayben in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical.

Best new musical contenders are Kinky Boots, Bend It Like Beckham, Elf The Musical, Beautiful and In The Heights.

The five nominees for best West End show are Wicked, Les Miserables, Kinky Boots, Miss Saigon and Matilda the Musical.

WhatsOnStage's Chief Operating Officer Sita McIntosh said: "We're thrilled to see our awards go from strength to strength – with more members of the public nominating than ever before. It's this that makes our awards so special – we give the public the voice to decide, the people who buy the tickets and ultimately decide on the success of a production."

The WhatsOnStage Awards are the only major UK theatre awards in which the audience are the judges. Audiences have submitted their choices in the nominations process, and the five nominations with the most votes are put into the shortlist.

The public can now vote who they want to win in each category, as the voting is now open. Head to the WhatsOnStage Awards site to cast your vote.

Winners will be announced in a concert - featuring live performances from shows - at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 21 February 2016.

The 16th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards nominees in full:

Best Actor in a Play sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Hamlet

James McAvoy, The Ruling Class

Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man

Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King

Alex Hassell, Henry V

Best Actress in a Play sponsored by The Umbrella Rooms:

Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51

Denise Gough, People, Places and Things

Lia Williams, Oresteia

Rosalie Craig, As You Like It

Harriet Walter, Death of a Salesman

Best Actor in a Musical sponsored by Century:

Killian Donnelly, Kinky Boots

Michael Ball, Mack and Mabel

Matt Henry, Kinky Boots

Sam Mackay, In the Heights

Ben Forster, Elf the Musical

Best Actress in a Musical:

Imelda Staunton, Gypsy

Beverley Knight, Cats

Kimberley Walsh, Elf the Musical

Lily Frazer, In the Heights

Katie Brayben, Beautiful

Best Supporting Actor in a Play:

Ciaran Hinds, Hamlet

Mark Gatiss, Three Days in the Country

Bertie Carvel, Bakkhai

Johnny Flynn, Hangmen

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Hamlet

Best Supporting Actress in a Play sponsored by Tonic Theatre Company:

Sian Brooke, Hamlet

Anastasia Hille, Hamlet

Imogen Doel, The Importance of Being Earnest

Patsy Ferran, As You Like It

Judi Dench, The Winter's Tale

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical:

Lucas Rush, American Idiot

Alexis Gerred, American Idiot

David Bedella, In The Heights

Jack Edwards, Mack and Mabel

Peter Davison, Gypsy

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical sponsored by Newman:

Lara Pulver, Gypsy

Jennie Dale, Elf the Musical

Amy Lennox, Kinky Boots

Lauren Samuels, Bend It Like Beckham

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In The Heights

Best New Play:

Hangmen

Oppenheimer

Photograph 51

People, Places and Things

Farinelli and the King

Best New Musical sponsored by Shine Creative Solutions:

Kinky Boots

Bend It Like Beckham

Elf the Musical

Beautiful

In The Heights

Best Play Revival:

Hamlet

Importance of Being Earnest

The Ruling Class

Death of a Salesman

Oresteia

Best Musical Revival sponsored by R&H Theatricals Europe:

Gypsy

Cats

High Society

Mack and Mabel

American Idiot

Best Direction:

Hamlet, Lyndsey Turner

In The Heights, Luke Sheppard

American Idiot, Racky Plews

Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell

Gypsy, Jonathan Kent

Best Choreography sponsored by Capezio:

Kinky Boots, Jerry Mitchell

In The Heights, Drew McOnie

High Society, Nathan M Wright

Gypsy, Stephen Mear

American Idiot, Racky Plews

Best Set Design sponsored by Theatre Cafe:

Hamlet, Es Devlin

American Idiot, Sara Perks

Kinky Boots, David Rockwell

In The Heights, Takis

Gypsy, Anthony Ward

Best Lighting Design sponsored by White Light:

Hamlet, Jane Cox

In The Heights, Howard Hudson

American Idiot, Tim Deiling

Kinky Boots, Kenneth Posner

Gypsy, Mark Henderson

Best Off-West End Production sponsored by Les Miserables:

Shock Treatment, King's Head Theatre

Carrie, Southwark Playhouse

You Won't Succeed on Broadway If You Don't Have Any Jews, St James's Theatre

Grand Hotel, Southwark Playhouse

Assassins, The Menier Chocolate Factory

Best Regional Production:

Mack and Mabel, Chichester Festival Theatre and tour

Mary Poppins, tour

Anything Goes, Sheffield Crucible and tour

Hairspray, tour

Henry V, RSC

Best West End Show sponsored by The Wine Treasury:

Wicked

Les Miserables

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon

Matilda