Keira Knightley leads the nominations at Olivier launch

The Haymarket Hotel was host to this year's Laurence Olivier Award nominations. The lunchtime get-together saw actors such as Keira Knightley, Maureen Lipman, Anthony Head, Samuel West and ex-Spice Girl Mel C enjoy drinks and canapés for the pre-celebrations.

Keira Knightley was one of the stars nominated for her performance in The Misanthrope, saying it is “like a dream come true. I never actually thought I would make it on the stage and then my debut, to then get a nomination, it's extraordinary.”

Melanie C of Spice Girls fame spoke about how nervous she had been taking on Mrs Johnstone in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers. Speaking of her Best Actress in a Musical nomination she said: “I've found really lovely about theatre is it really opens your audience out.”

“There's certain members of my family or friends that it wouldn't really be appropriate for them to come to a gig, like elderly relatives, and it's so nice for them to be able to see you up there on the stage. And also I think it's been quite an eye-opener for a lot of people who only know me as being part of the Spice Girls, so lots of theatregoers I think have actually been quite surprised that there's more to me than that.”

Spring Awakening enjoyed a boost after closing in the West End early last year, as two of its young performers were nominated for their roles in the rock musical. Charlotte Wakefield and Aneurin Barnard spoke of their joy at being recognised.

Wakefield explained: “Spring Awakening was my first professional theatre job and to be here in a room filled with such extraordinary actors is just beyond words, it really is.”

The young actress said that it was a shame the musical closed early, but added: “we went out with people queuing outside stage door, we had a massive crowd, people loved it and people miss it still.”

The 2010 Laurence Olivier Awards take place on 21st March 2010 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London and will be presented by Anthony Head who is currently starring in Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Vic.

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