Spamalot reigns supreme over 2006’s other Broadway imports in the nominations round of the 31st annual Laurence Olivier Awards, London's equivalent of the Tonys (See Today's Other News). The Monty Python musical has received a total of seven nominations, more than any other production, in this year’s awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Role in a Musical (Tim Curry, Hannah Waddingham and Tom Goodman-Hill) and Best New Musical.

Wickedly disappointing

Fellow transatlantic transfers Wicked and Avenue Q received just five nominations between them. Disappointingly for Wicked (and Idina Menzel) fans, who’ve been voting enthusiastically in’s audience-decided Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the show is not up for Best New Musical and doesn’t figure in any Olivier performance categories. All of Wicked’s nominations are for the US-based creative team: Best Director (Joe Mantello), Best Set Design (Eugene Lee), Best Costume Design (Susan Hilfterty) and Best Lighting Design (Kenneth Posner).

None of Avenue Q’s cast or creatives figure in the shortlists, although the show is up against Spamalot - as well as Tony Kushner’s Caroline, Or Change and Porgy and Bess, Trevor Nunn’s reworking of the Gershwins’ 1935 jazz opera – for Best New Musical.

Spamalot’s closest contender in the musicals race is the much smaller-scale revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, which transferred from the 150-seat Menier to the West End last summer. It’s up for six awards, including Outstanding Musical Production, Best Actor and Actress in a Musical (Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell), Best Director (Sam Buntrock) and Best Design (David Farley and Timothy Bird, who have already triumphed at the Evening Standard and last year’s Critics’ Circle Awards for their computer-generated animations).

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sell-out production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is also up for Outstanding Musical Production, but that’s its only mention, with nothing for its How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? star Connie Fisher, a two-time nominee.

In any other year, Fisher would have been a shoo-in to make the Best Actress in a Musical race, but this year that’s one of the fiercest, and biggest, categories. In addition to Spamalot’s Waddingham and Sunday’s Russell, Evita’s Elena Roger, Caroline, Or Change’s Tonya Pinkins and Porgy and BessNicola Hughes complete the field. Best Actor in a Musical has just four nominees - Porgy’s Clarke Peters and Evita’s Philip Quast as well as Spamalot’s Curry and Sunday’s Evans.

Miller vs Stoppard

Amongst plays, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and the Royal Court’s world premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll lead the pack with four Olivier nominations apiece. Yet again Rock ‘n’ Roll is in contention for Best Actor and Actress (Rufus Sewell and Sinead Cusack) and Best New Play, while, as in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, The Crucible competes for Best Revival, Best Actor (Iain Glen) and Best Director (Dominic Cooke – the third and final entry in a slimmed down category this year).

For Best New Play, Rock ‘n’ Roll faces competition from David Harrower’s Blackbird, Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer and Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon. Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, the title stars of Frost/Nixon, lock horns off stage as they’re nominated individually for Best Actor, in a category that also fields Donkeys’ Years David Haig. Others in Best Actress competition, alongside Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Cusack, are Evening Standard winner Kathleen Turner (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Tamsin Greig (Much Ado About Nothing) and Eve Best (A Moon for the Misbegotten), who won last year’s trophy for Hedda Gabler.

Old Vic acknowledged at last

Eve Best’s Best Actress nod is one of three for A Moon for the Misbegotten and the Old Vic, which was completely ignored in last year’s Oliviers. Though still, notably, there’s no nomination for Best’s leading man and Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, who’s the Theatregoers’ Choice Best Actor front runner for a second consecutive year. Moon is also nominated for Best Revival and Best Performance in a Supporting Role.

With such a strong year in the West End, particularly for musicals, London’s subsidised houses don’t dominate in the same way that they often do in the Olivier nominations. Nevertheless, there are strong showings for: the National Theatre with nine nominations (for Caroline, Or Change, The Seafarer, Therese Raquin, The Voysey Inheritance and Waves), the Donmar Warehouse with five (Frost/Nixon, The Cut and Don Juan in Soho), the RSC with five (The Crucible), the Royal Court with four (Rock ‘n’ Roll) and the Tricycle with two (The 39 Steps including Best New Comedy). Odd man out this year is the Almeida with no nominations.

In Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, the category for Off-West End members of the Society of London Theatre, which runs the Oliviers, the Young Vic makes the shortlist just two months after its reopening, with a nod for Dennis Kelly’s play Love and Money in its new Maria studio, while east London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East is nominated twice (for its production of Pied Piper and for “a powerful season of provocative work, reaching new audiences”), and actor Roy Dotrice is named for his performance in The Best of Friends at Hampstead Theatre.

Scores on the doors

Spamalot (seven); Sunday in the Park with George (six); Cabaret, Porgy and Bess and Caroline, Or Change (four each); Evita and Wicked (three each); The Boy Friend (two); Avenue Q, Sinatra and The Sound of Music (one each). Other big openings – including Dirty Dancing and Daddy Cool - are omitted.

Multiple play nominees stack up thus: Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Crucible (four each); A Moon for the Misbegotten, Donkeys’ Years and Frost/Nixon (three each); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Seafarer, The 39 Steps and Therese Raquin (two each).

This year’s Olivier Awards comprise 23 categories. The occasional field of Best Entertainment is not included in the 2007 Awards. As with the past three years’ format, the awards ceremony, which takes place on Sunday 18 February 2007 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, will not be open to the public and will not be televised.

- by Terri Paddock

To view the full list of 2007 Olivier nominations, click here.