The Society of London Theatre’s annual theatre awards, the OLIVIER AWARDS, will be held tonight at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, celebrating the best of the year’s performances and productions.

This year the awards have failed to attract a  UK television broadcaster, and instead will be streamed live over the Society’s website and also broadcast on the BBC’s Radio 2. The Broadway equivalent, the Tony Awards, are transmitted on main terrestrial channel CBS in the States.

This year’s nominations are dominated by Hollywood stars, promising a particularly glamorous year for the awards. Keira Knightley, James Earl Jones, Jude Law, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson and Rachel Weisz are among the big name stars vying for Larry gongs.

Also this year, the dominance of plays in the West End are reflected by the organiser’s decision to extend the Best Actor, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Revival categories from five to six nominations. The main drama-producing houses are up for a number of awards tonight, notably the Royal Court, who picked up 15 nominations for four different productions – Jerusalem, Enron, The Priory and Cock. The Donmar Warehouse and National Theatre have also done well with 19 nominations between them for plays including the Donmar Warehouse production of Hamlet starring Jude Law, who was also nominated.

Organisers have also added a new Audience Award to recognise long-running West End shows which opened before 2009, allowing Billy Elliot the Musical, The Phantom of the Opera, War Horse, We Will Rock You and Wicked another crack at the awards whip.

Live entertainment during the awards ceremony will include numbers from Priscilla, Sister Act, A Little Night Music, Spring Awakening, Oliver! and Hello, Dolly! – plus Blood Brothers’ Melanie C is singing Easy Terms and 53 performers from the London and UK touring productions of Les Misérables will all be on stage together to celebrate the show’s 25th birthday.

In the musical categories, a number of shows that didn’t make it into 2010 are nominated for gongs including Spring Awakening, which leads with six nominations, A Little Night Music with five, and Hello, Dolly!, with four. Sister Act, still running at the Palladium Theatre, is also nominated.

In the acting categories, competition will be fierce. The Best Actor category includes James Earl Jones, Jude Law, James McAvoy, Mark Rylance, Ken Stott and Samuel West, whilst the Best Actress category features Gillian Anderson, Lorraine Burroughs, Imelda Staunton, Juliet Stevenson and Rachel Weisz. Keira Knightley (pictured) will compete with Hayley Atwell, Michelle Dockery, Alexandra Gilbreath, Rachael Stirling and Ruth Wilson for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Another closely contested category will be Best Revival, with Arcadia, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Misanthrope, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View From the Bridge and Three Days of Rain all up for the award.

Watch the awards ceremony live from 6.30pm GMT on the Society of London website at:

http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/olivier_awards/live/