Just days after Andrew Lloyd Webber knocked Cameron Mackintosh off his pedestal in The Stage's annual Top 100 rankings, the two giants of the theatrical industry are going head to head for glory in this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, the nominations of which are announced today.

Both Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game and Mackintosh's The Witches of Eastwick have been nominated for Best New Musical, along with Merrily We Roll Along and Fosse. Amongst its three other nominations, The Beautiful Game counts Best Actor in a Musical for David Shannon, Best Actress in a Musical for Josie Walker (competing against Witches again, in the form of Joanna Riding) and Best Theatre Choreographer for Meryl Tankard.

Trevor Nunn also proved that he can continue to hold his own on the awards front, despite mounting criticism surrounding the National Theatre's programming. The NT notched up 22 nominations, four for its own (albeit imported via the West Yorkshire Playhouse) musical, Singin' in the Rain; two for Yasmina Reza's Life x 3, about to transfer to the Old Vic; and three for Joe Penhall's BlueOrange, about to transfer to the Duchess.

But the real jewel in the National's crown is undoubtedly its revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons which earned a whopping six nominations, more than any other single production. These include several of the dramatic biggies: Best Actress (for Julie Walters), Best Supporting Actress (for Catherine McCormack), Best Supporting Actor (for Ben Daniels) and Best Director (for Howard Davies).

Walters is in lofty company in the Best Actress category, with Jessica Lange (for Long Day's Journey into Night), Helen Mirren (for Orpheus Descending), Harriet Walter (for Life x 3) and Julia Ormond (for My Zinc Bed) all in the running.

A real race is brewing in the Best Actor category, too. Both Conleth Hill and Sean Campion, the stars of the hit Irish two-hander Stones in His Pockets, have been nominated along with Michael Gambon (for The Caretaker), Bill Nighy (for BlueOrange) and Simon Russell Beale (for Hamlet).

Sam Mendes's Donmar Warehouse also fared well with nine nominations, including two in the Best Director category - Nicholas Hytner for Orpheus Descending and Michael Grandage for Passion Play. Its re-invention of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along also received four nominations.

The 25th annual Laurence Olivier Awards will be presented on Friday, 23 February 2001 at the Lyceum Theatre. Clive Anderson will once again host the lunchtime ceremony. To maintain an element of surprise in the presentation of the awards, the winners of some categories will receive their awards in an unexpected location.

The Laurence Olivier Awards will be televised on BBC2 on Saturday, 24 February at 7.55pm in a star-studded programme that will combine the awards presentation with highlights of the past year in London theatre. This is the first time the ceremony will be shown on a Saturday night.

The full list of nominations is as follows:

BEST ACTRESS

- Jessica Lange for Long Day's Journey into Night at the Lyric
- Helen Mirren for Orpheus Descending at the Donmar Warehouse
- Julia Ormond for My Zinc Bed at the Royal Court
- Harriet Walter for Life x 3 at the Lyttelton
- Julie Walters for All My Sons at the Cottesloe

BEST ACTOR

- Sean Campion for Stones in his Pockets at the New Ambassadors then Duke of York's
- Conleth Hill for Stones In His Pockets at the New Ambassadors then Duke of York's
- Michael Gambon for The Caretaker at the Comedy
- Bill Nighy for BlueOrange at the Cottesloe
- Simon Russell Beale for Hamlet at the Lyttelton

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

- Gillian Barge for Passion Play at the Donmar Warehouse
- Pauline Flanagan for Dolly West's Kitchen at The Old Vic
- Catherine McCormack for All My Sons at the Cottesloe
- Marcia Warren for In Flame at the New Ambassadors

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

- Ben Daniels for All My Sons at the Cottesloe
- Chiwetel Ejiofor for BlueOrange at the Cottesloe
- Douglas Hodge for The Caretaker at the Comedy
- Jason Watkins for A Servant to Two Masters at the Young Vic then New Ambassadors

BEST NEW PLAY

- BlueOrange at the Cottesloe
- Dolly West's Kitchen at The Old Vic
- Life X 3 at the Lyttelton
- My Zinc Bed at the Royal Court

BEST NEW COMEDY

- Cooking with Elvis at the Whitehall
- House and Garden at the Lyttelton/Olivier
- Peggy for You at the Comedy
- Stones in His Pockets at the New Ambassadors then Duke of York's

BEST NEW MUSICAL

- The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge
- Fosse at the Prince of Wales
- Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse
- The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PRODUCTION

- HMS Pinafore at the Savoy
- Singin' in the Rain at the Olivier
- The King and I at the London Palladium
- The Mikado at the Savoy
- The Pirates of Penzance at the Open Air

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

- Daniel Evans for Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse
- Jimmy Johnston for The Pirates of Penzance at the Open Air
- Paul Robinson for Singin' in the Rain at the Olivier
- David Shannon for The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

- Nicola Hughes for Fosse at the Prince of Wales
- Joanna Riding for The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
- Samantha Spiro for Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse
- Josie Walker for The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL

- Rosemary Ashe for The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
- Rebecca Thornhill for Singin' in the Rain at the Olivier
- Miles Western for Pageant at the Vaudeville
- Taewon Yi Kim for The King and I at the London Palladium

BEST DIRECTOR

- Howard Davies for All My Sons at the Cottesloe
- Michael Grandage for Passion Play at the Donmar Warehouse
- Nicholas Hytner for Orpheus Descending at the Donmar Warehouse
- Trevor Nunn for The Cherry Orchard at the Cottesloe then Olivier
- Ian Talbot for The Pirates of Penzance at the Open Air

BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER

- Peter Darling for Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse
- Bob Fosse and Ann Reinking for Fosse at the Prince of Wales
- Stephen Mear for Singin' in the Rain at the Olivier
- Meryl Tankard for The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge

BEST SET DESIGNER

- Bunny Christie for Baby Doll at the Lyttelton and then Albery
- William Dudley for All My Sons at the Cottesloe
- Rob Howell for The Caretaker at the Comedy
- Brian Thomson for The King and I at the London Palladium

BEST LIGHTING DESIGNER

- Mark Henderson for All My Sons at the Cottesloe
- Paul Pyant for Hamlet at the Lyttelton
- Hugh Vanstone for The Cherry Orchard at the Cottesloe and The Graduate at the Gielgud
- Howard Harrison for To the Green Fields Beyond at the Donmar Warehouse and The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

BEST COSTUME DESIGNER

- Gregg Barnes for Pageant at the Vaudeville
- Alison Chitty for Remembrance of Things Past at the Cottesloe
- Roger Kirk for The King and I at the London Palladium
- Bob Crowley for Cressida at the Albery and The Witches of Eastwick at the Drury Lane

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA

- Gerald Finley for his leading role in The Silver Tassie at the London Coliseum
- The Kirov Opera for its season at the Royal Opera House
- Mark-Anthony Turnage (composer) and Amanda Holden (librettist) for The Silver Tassie
- Stefanos Lazaridis for his designs for The Royal Opera's Greek Passion and English National Opera's daring Italian Season

BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION

- English National Opera's Pelléas and Mélisande at the London Coliseum
- English National Opera's The Coronation of Poppea at the London Coliseum
- The Royal Opera's The Greek Passion at the Royal Opera House
- The Kirov Opera's War and Peace at the Royal Opera House

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE

- Matthew Bourne for his concept and dramatisation of The Car Man at The Old Vic
- Deborah Colker for her choreography of Mix at the Barbican
- Michael Revie for his performance in Zurich Ballet's Mozartina at Sadler's Wells
- Robert Parker for his performance in Birmingham Royal Ballet's Shakespeare Suite at the Royal Opera House

BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION

- NDT2's Indigo Rose at Sadler's Wells
- Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu's Le Jardin Io Io Ito Ito at the Barbican
- NDT2's Mellantid at Sadler's Wells
- Zurich Ballet's Mozartina at Sadler's Wells

- by Terri Paddock