The nominations for London’s biggest theatre awards show are out

The nominations are out for this year’s Olivier Awards, aka London’s biggest annual theatre awards ceremony.

It had been predicted all year and thus it came to pass, but the big clash is between Jamie Lloyd’s Nicole Scherzinger-starring revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and the Bridge Theatre’s immersive production of ‘Guys & Dolls’ – Time Out’s top two London theatre shows of last year.

‘Sunset Boulevard’ does lead the pack with 11 nominations to nine for ‘Guys & Dolls’, but it is worth saying that the fact ‘G&D’ director Nicholas Hytner didn’t get nominated for best director is a complete and utter travesty.

However, it’s far from a two-horse race. The National Theatre’s hugely entertaining, James Graham-penned Gareth Southgate drama ‘Dear England’ came romping home with nine nominations – which is a huge amount for a non-musical – while plucky musical ‘Operation Mincemeat’ capped a years-long journey from the fringe to the West End by netting six nominations (and you have to think it has a fair chance of taking the prestigious best new musical award, where it’s not in conflict with ‘Sunset Boulevard’ or ‘Guys & Dolls’).

Those four shows do hoover up an awful lot of the nominations, though the National Theatre has had a good year of it generally with 15 nomination in total (nine from ‘Dear England’ plus noms for ‘The Motive And The Cue’, ‘Till The Stars Come Down’ and ‘The Effect’).

As is the way these days, the acting awards are full of famous names whose shows are otherwise not heavily represented, though you have to think Andrew Scott must have it nailed on for his one-man ‘Vanya’, and the relative lack of creative nominations for the hyper-techy Sarah Snook-starring ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is weird.

Are there any criminal omissions? You have to take the Oliviers with a pinch of salt – or indeed, SOLT, the Society of London Theatre who vote for it, and tend to favour commercial productions that have played in the West End. Not nominating Hytner really does seem to have been an act of indefensible cosmic stupidity. The total absence of the National Theatre’s smash musical ‘The Witches’ is genuinely baffling, to the point one wonders if the NT was playing it down in the hope of winning big when it surely transfers to the West End.

However, given both ‘Guys & Dolls’ and the National Theatre have done well generally, it feels a bit tangential fretting about individual omissions. For me the biggest shame was nothing for Daniel Rigby for his jaw-droppingly good turn in the Lyric Hammersmith’s West End transfer smash ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ – the play itself got a best comedy nomination, which feels a bit like a fob off.

All in all, though, a solid set of nominations, and if the Oliviers favour commercial theatre then clearly last year was one heck of a year for commercial theatre.

The Olivier Awards will take place on Sunday April 14 at the Royal Albert Hall, with a highlights package broadcast on ITV that evening.

For the full list of nominations, head here.

Our top London theatre shows of 2023.

The best new London theatre shows to book for in 2024.

Listen to Time Out’s brilliant podcast ‘Love Thy Neighbourhood’: the newest episode with Iain Stirling in Shepherd’s Bush is out now.

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.