April 3, 2016 11:37 am

Mark Rylance, Benedict Cumberbatch up for trophies at Olivier stage awards

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LONDON – Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance is a best-actor favourite at Sunday’s Olivier Awards, a celebration of the London stage whose nominees include Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman.

Rylance, who won a supporting-actor Oscar this year for “Bridge of Spies,” is best-actor nominated for playing an 18th-century Spanish monarch in “Farinelli and the King.”

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He’s up against Cumberbatch for a heralded “Hamlet,” Adrian Lester for the historical drama “Red Velvet,” Kenneth Branagh for Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” and Kenneth Cranham for a powerful family saga “The Father.”

Kidman is a best-actress nominee for “Photograph 51,” a drama about the discovery of DNA that brought her back to the West End after a 17-year absence. The other contenders are Gemma Arterton for the Restoration romp “Nell Gwynn,” Denise Gough for the rehab drama “People, Places And Things,” Janet McTeer for the battle-of-the-sexes showdown “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and Lia Williams for the Greek tragedy “Oresteia.”

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Dench — a seven-time Olivier winner — has a supporting-actress nod for “The Winter’s Tale.”

A revival of the musical “Gypsy” has the most Olivier nominations overall — eight — while the high-stepping Broadway hit “Kinky Boots” has seven.

“Kinky Boots” lyricist Cyndi Lauper is scheduled to sing at Sunday’s Royal Opera House ceremony, which will feature performances from nominated musicals including “Guys And Dolls,” ”Bend It Like Beckham” and “In The Heights.”

The awards, Britain’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tonys, are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. It’s also the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the ceremony is due to celebrate the Bard with a special performance of one of his sonnets.

The awards honour achievements in London theatre, dance and opera, and winners in most categories are chosen by a panel of stage professionals and theatregoers.

© 2016 The Associated Press

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