‘Memphis,’ ‘Beautiful’ lead race for London’s Olivier Awards

LONDON — Two Broadway imports, “Memphis: The Musical” and Carole King show “Beautiful,” lead the race for British theater’s Olivier Awards, with a clutch of nominations each, including best new musical.

“Memphis,” set in the segregated 1950s American South, received nine nominations Monday, including best actress in a musical for soul-singer star Beverley Knight. “Beautiful” had eight, with Katie Brayben a contender for her performance as chart-topping songwriter King.

The other nominees for best new musical are “Sunny Afternoon,” the story of The Kinks, and Imelda Marcos-inspired “Here Lies Love,” created by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

Plays about British royalty past and future dominate the non-musical categories. A two-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor saga “Wolf Hall” has five nominations. “King Charles III,” which imagines the troubled reign of the current heir to the throne Prince Charles, has six.

Best-actress nominees are Gillian Anderson for “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Kristin Scott Thomas for “Electra,” Imelda Staunton for “Good People” and Penelope Wilton for “Taken at Midnight.”

Angela Lansbury, still onstage at 89, is up for best supporting actress for playing scatterbrained psychic Madame Arcati in “Blithe Spirit.” Nicole Scherzinger, former member of pop group the Pussycat Dolls, received a supporting-actress in a musical nod for playing Grizabella in a revival of “Cats.”

Best actor contenders are James McAvoy for “The Ruling Class,” Tim Pigott-Smith for “King Charles III” and two stars of plays by Arthur Miller — Mark Strong for “A View from the Bridge” and Richard Armitage for “The Crucible.”

The Olivier awards, Britain’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tonys, honor achievements in London theater, musicals, dance and opera. Winners will be announced during an April 12 ceremony at the Royal Opera House.