Hip-hop musical Hamilton could set a new record when it rocks up at the Olivier Awards, which are taking place at the Royal Albert Hall.
The show goes into the biggest night in the UK theatrical calendar with a record-breaking 13 nominations.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won nine awards last year, setting a new record for the most Oliviers received.
The most Olivier Awards received by a musical to date is seven, a record set by Matilda in 2012.
Two of Hamilton’s nominations are in the best actor in a musical category, which sees Giles Terera and Jamael Westman recognised.
The musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, fuses rap and hip-hop to tell the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, played by Jamael Westman in London.
Terera plays Hamilton’s nemesis Aaron Burr in the show, which opened in London last year after enjoying huge success in New York.
Three of the show’s Olivier nominations come in the same category – best supporting actor in a musical – meaning that the most awards it can actually win is 10.
Stars shielded themselves from the rain with umbrellas on a very soggy red carpet before the awards got under way.
Imelda Staunton, nominated for two Olivier Awards, said the evening felt like “the end of term school prizes”.
“The work is done, and this is a nice party,” she said.
But she added that it was impossible to choose between the two roles – in Follies and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – for which she’d been nominated.
“It’s just amazing I’ve been nominated for two,” she said. “I wouldn’t have put myself up up for that.”
Shirley Henderson, nominated for best actress in a musical for Girl from the North Country, said the nomination was “unexpected”.
Speaking of the reason for the play’s success, she said: “I think it’s the human condition, and the tenderness of it – it’s the music and the brilliance of Bob Dylan’s lyrics.”
Lesley Manville, nominated for Long Day’s Journey into Night, said 2018 had been a special year for her – with her Oscar nomination for Phantom Thread and the success of the series Mum, in which she stars.
“In a way, it’s what I’ve strived for always,” she said. “If I wasn’t a chameleon, I’d get bored very quickly with my job. The fact they’re very different parts, in different mediums, means every box has been ticked. I don’t think 2018 will be topped.”
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, performed at the National Theatre, has 10 nominations in total.
Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman has a handful of nominations, including one for best new play – in which it competes against Ink, Network and Oslo.
Paddy Considine is nominated for best actor for the Royal Court play, which transferred to the Gielgud, alongside Bryan Cranston for Network, Andrew Scott for Hamlet and Andrew Garfield for Angels in America.
Catherine Tate is hosting the awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Sunday’s event will see David Lan receive a special award for his artistic directorship of the Young Vic.
The Time’s Up movement – which is campaigning for an end to sexual harassment – had a presence on the red carpet, with British stars inviting activists as their guests.
They include W1A actress Ophelia Lovibond, who was joined by Marai Larasi, the executive director of black feminist organisation Imkaan.
Doctor Who actress Pearl Mackie was accompanied by Andrea Simon, campaigner for the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Comedian and actress Meera Syal’s guest was Anjum Mouj, chair of London Black Women’s Project.
Performances include one from past stars of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – including Jason Donovan and Lee Mead – to mark the 50th anniversary of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical.
The cast of Hamilton were due to open the show, with other performances from nominated musicals including Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Girl from the North Country, Young Frankenstein, Follies and 42nd Street.
Chita Rivera, who performed in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, is singing Somewhere, accompanied by other stars of musicals – Groundhog Day’s Andy Karl and Dreamgirls’ Adam J. Bernard – along with the Arts Educational Schools London Choir.
It is the 60th anniversary of West Side Story debuting in London.