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Hollywood stars vie for London theater awards

LONDON — Hollywood heavyweights feature strongly in the race for Britain's 2010 Laurence Olivier theater awards, with Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, James Earl Jones and Keira Knightley among the nominees announced Monday.

Jones is shortlisted for best actor for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," alongside Law for "Hamlet," James McAvoy for "Three Days of Rain," Mark Rylance for "Jerusalem," Ken Stott for "A View from the Bridge" and Samuel West for "Enron."

Weisz received a best-actress nomination for her performance as faded belle Blanche Dubois in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Her competitors are Gillian Anderson for "A Doll's House," Lorraine Burroughs for "The Mountaintop," Imelda Staunton for "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" and Juliet Stevenson for "Duet for One."

"Pirates of the Caribbean" star Knightley is nominated in the supporting actress category for her turn as a manipulative movie starlet in "The Misanthrope."

Melanie Chisholm — better known as Mel C of the Spice Girls — is nominated for best actress in a musical, for "Blood Brothers." "Mr. Bean" star Rowan Atkinson is up for best actor for playing Fagin in "Oliver!"

The Olivier awards, Britain's equivalent of Broadway's Tonys, honor achievements in London theater, musicals, dance and opera.

Sexy song-and-dance drama "Spring Awakening" received seven nominations, including best new musical. Lucy Prebble's "Enron," about the collapse of the Texas energy giant, and Jez Butterworth's raucous state-of-England play "Jerusalem" lead the drama field with six nominations each, including best new play.

Along with "Enron" and "Jerusalem," the new play contenders are Katori Hall's Martin Luther King drama "The Mountaintop" and John Logan's "Red," about artist Mark Rothko.

The best new comedy nominees are Tim Firth's film adaptation "Calendar Girls," Richard Bean's immigrant tale "England People Very Nice," suburban saga "Parlour Song" — a second nomination for playwright Butterworth — and Michael Wynne's party-from-hell play "The Priory."

New-musical contenders are "Spring Awakening," "Dreamboats and Petticoats," "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "Sister Act."

The nods for "Enron" and "Jerusalem" are a coup for the small Royal Court Theatre, which gave them their first London run. Both plays have transferred to bigger West End playhouses, and "Enron" is moving to Broadway in April.

The Royal Court has 15 nominations in all, followed by the Donmar Warehouse with 10 and the National Theatre with nine.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on March 21.