The nominations for the 2006 Laurence Olivier Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Tonys, were announced. Musicals Billy Elliot and Guys and Dolls lead with a total of nine and eight nominations respectively.

The nominations also honored the recently troubled English National Opera. After a difficult year in which it lost its artistic director, chairman, and musical director, and faced staff strikes, the ENO succeeded in taking all nominations in the opera production category and four of the five nominations for outstanding achievement in opera.

This was a big year for revivals in London, with Hedda Gabler, Mary Stuart and Don Carlos receiving six nominations each, many in the design categories. Designers Christopher Oram and Rob Howell are each nominated for both best set and best costume design for their work on Don Carlos and Hedda Gabler respectively.

In the best lighting design category, Paule Constable, who won last year for His Dark Material is again nominated for his work on Don Carlos, he is up against Rick Fisher for Billy Elliot, Howard Harrison for Guys and Dolls, and Hugh Vanstone for Mary Stuart.

Presented annually by the Society of London Theatre, the Laurence Olivier Awards are awarded to shows opening in London’s West End between January 1st and December 31st each year. The 2006 Olivier Awards will be presented at the Park Lane Hilton on Sunday, February 26.

The design nominees are:

Best Lighting Design
Billy Elliot--The Musical designed by Rick Fisher at the Victoria Palace
Don Carlos designed by Paule Constable at the Gielgud
Mary Stuart designed by Hugh Vanstone at the Donmar Warehouse and Apollo
Guys and Dolls designed by Howard Harrison at the Piccadilly

Best Set Design
Billy Elliot--The Musical designed by Ian MacNeil at the Victoria Palace
Don Carlos designed by Christopher Oram at the Gielgud
Hedda Gabler designed by Rob Howell at the Almeida and Duke of York’s

Best Costume Design
The Dog In The Manger designed by Es Devlin at the Playhouse
Don Carlos designed by Christopher Oram at the Gielgud
Hedda Gabler designed by Rob Howell at the Almeida and Duke of York’s
Mary Stuart designed by Anthony Ward at the Donmar Warehouse and Apollo

Best Sound Design
Billy Elliot--The Musical designed by Paul Arditti at the Victoria Palace
Coram Boy designed by Christopher Shutt at the Olivier
Guys and Dolls designed by Terry Jardine & Chris Full at the Piccadilly

For a complete list of nominees, click here.