London musical Cabaret, starring Eddie Redmayne, leads Olivier Award nominees

Eddie Redmayne (left) and Jessie Buckley are both nominated for Olivier Awards for their roles in Cabaret. PHOTO: NYTIMES

LONDON (NYTIMES) - A revival of Cabaret, which has been a topic of conversation in London for its sky-high ticket prices as much as for its stellar cast, dominated the nominations for this year's Olivier Awards - Britain's equivalent of the Tony Awards - that were announced on Tuesday (March 8).

The musical secured 11 nominations including a nod for best musical revival, as well as for best actor and actress in a musical for its stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley.

Its prominence was perhaps unsurprising given the acclaim Cabaret has received since opening in December in a production that transforms the West End's Playhouse Theatre into a seedy nightclub straight out of 1920s Berlin.

Audiences enter the show through the theatre's backstage corridors, and can even have a pre-show meal once inside, partly explaining why tickets cost up to £325 (S$582).

Theatre critic Matt Wolf, reviewing the show for The New York Times, called it "nerve-shredding" for its portrayal of a world on the verge of Nazism.

Another theatre critic, Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph, called it "2021's kill-for-a-ticket theatrical triumph," suggesting readers "dig like your life depended on it into your pockets" to pay for a ticket.

Even with such praise, Cabaret faces stiff competition in the musical categories, especially from a revival of American director Kathleen Marshall's 2011 Broadway production of Anything Goes at the Barbican, which secured nine nominations including for best musical revival and a best actress nomination for Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney. Foster won a Tony in 2011 for the same role.

In the non-musical categories, the nominations are led by Life Of Pi, British writer Lolita Chakrabarti's adaptation of author Yann Martel's bestselling novel telling the story of a boy stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger.

That play, at Wyndham's Theatre, has secured nine nods, including a best supporting actor nomination for the seven puppeteers who bring the tiger to life.

Life Of Pi was also nominated for best new play, where it is up against 2:22: A Ghost Story, a haunted-house thriller that was at the Noel Coward Theatre; Cruise, a tale set in London's Soho in the 1980s (that was at the Duchess Theatre); and Best Of Enemies, playwright James Graham's play about the rancorous 1968 TV debates between public intellectuals William Buckley and Gore Vidal that was at the Young Vic theatre.

One of the most highly contested categories is likely to be best actress in a play.

Cush Jumbo, who is nominated for her performance as Hamlet at the Young Vic Jumbo, is up against The Crown actress Emma Corrin, nominated for her role in Anna X at the Harold Pinter Theatre; singer Lily Allen for 2:22: A Ghost Story; and Sheila Atim for a revival of Constellations, at the Vaudeville Theatre.

The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in London on April 10.

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