Cumberbatch's performance at London's Barbican theatre helped win the production the joint highest number of nominations with nine, tied with the musical Kinky Boots.

The Sherlock star's role earned him a nod for the Best Actor prize, a category in which he will be up against fellow Brit James MCAvoy, who has been nominated for his role in The Ruling Class, Bradley Cooper, for The Elephant Man, Mark Rylance (Farinelli and the King), and Alex Hassell (Henry V).

Nicole Kidman's widely acclaimed role in Photograph 51 has earned her a Best Actress nomination, and she will compete against Denise Gough (People, Places and Things), Lia Williams (Oresteia), Rosalie Craig (As You Like It) and Harriet Walter (Death of a Salesman).

The musical categories are dominated by Kinky Boots, Gypsy and Elf The Musical.

Gypsy star Imelda Staunton will compete for the best actress in a musical award with former Girls Aloud singer Kimberly Walsh, who starred in Elf.

MCAvoy and Cumberbatch's productions will also go head-to-head in the Best Revival category.

The winners of the WhatsOnStage Awards, voted for by the public, will be announced at a ceremony in London on 21 February (16).