Nominations are announced today for the 2004 TMA Theatre Awards. Presented by the Theatrical Management Association and formerly known as the Barclays Awards, after the high street banking group whose lead sponsorship ended two years ago, the TMA Awards, unlike most of the UK's prizes for theatre, do not focus on London and the West End. They are the only nationwide awards for excellence in regional theatre.

Sheffield Theatres’ revival of Cloud Nine, performed as part of the Caryl Churchill season at the Crucible in May (See News, 26 May 2004), receives two nominations (Best Supporting Actress for Lucy Briers and Best Director for Anna Mackmin) as does the production of Othello for Northampton’s Royal and Derngate Theatres (Best Supporting Actor for Finbar Lynch and Best Designer for Laura Hopkins).

There’s also a pair of nominations for the staging of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, albeit for two separate productions. Rupert Goold is nominated for Best Director for his Paradise at Northampton, while Ti Green is nominated for Best Designer for Bristol Old Vic’s Paradise. Both ‘first-ever’ stage adaptations of the epic 17th-century poem, about how Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, premiered on the same day in January (See News, 24 Dec 2003).

Three productions which enjoyed West End runs before or after their regional dates figure in this year’s awards: Suddenly Last Summer, Tom Stoppard’s translation of Pirandello’s Henry IV (both directed by Michael Grandage for Sheffield Lyceum and London’s Donmar Warehouse, respectively) and Coyote on a Fence. A fourth, Stratford East’s Best New Musical nominee The Big Life, is tipped for a West End transfer this year, while Out of Joint’s The Permanent Way enjoyed an extended season at the National.

Amongst the leading actors contending for trophies in this year’s TMA Awards are Victoria Hamilton, Ian McDiarmid (pictured as Henry IV), Linda Bassett, Alex Ferns and John Woodvine.

The 2004 awards presentation - which will be hosted once again by comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig – will be held on Sunday 17 October 2004 at west London's Lyric Hammersmith. In considering this year's 13 awards categories, more than 1,000 productions were seen by the panel of some 150 regular theatregoers from across the country. The 2004 judging year ran from 1 September 2003 to 31 August 2004.

The Theatrical Management Association is a trade association that represents over 300 member organisations involved in the creation, presentation and management of professional theatre, opera and dance in the UK. Its annual awards were established in 1990.

- by Terri Paddock

The full list of 2004 TMA nominations are as follows:

BEST ACTRESS - Linda Bassett for LUCKY DOG at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs; Victoria Hamilton for SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER a Sheffield Theatres Production at the Lyceum and on tour; and Carmen Munroe for MOTHER COURAGE, Nottingham Playhouse in association with the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Birmingham Repertory Theatre as part of the Eclipse initiative.

BEST ACTOR - Corey Johnson for A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and West Yorkshire Playhouse; Ian McDiarmid for HENRY IV, Donmar Warehouse on tour; and Lalor Roddy for THE WEIR at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Barbara Adair for REVENGE, Tinderbox Theatre Company on tour; Lucy Briers for CLOUD NINE a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible; and Eileen O'Brien for the Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s ACROSS OKA.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Alex Ferns for COYOTE ON A FENCE, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre in a co-production with Matthew Mitchell Ltd; Finbar Lynch for OTHELLO at Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton; and John Woodvine for HAMLET at the Nuffield, Southampton.

BEST DIRECTOR - Rupert Goold for PARADISE LOST at Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton; Terry Hands for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST at Clwyd Theatr Cymru; and Anna Mackmin for CLOUD NINE, a Sheffield Theatres production at the Crucible.

BEST NEW PLAY - REVENGE by Michael Duke, Tinderbox Theatre Company on tour; THE SUGAR SYNDROME by Lucy Prebble at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs; and YELLOWMAN by Dael Orlandersmith, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse in association with Hampstead Theatre.

BEST MUSICAL - FIERCE – AN URBAN MYTH written by Justin Young, music composed by Philip Pinsky, Gridiron Theatre Company on tour; THE BIG LIFE written by Paul Sirrett, music composed by Paul Joseph at Theatre Royal, Stratford East; and THE HIRED MAN book by Melvyn Bragg, music and lyrics by Howard Goodall, by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd at Salisbury Playhouse.

BEST DESIGNER - Liz Ashcroft for Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Company’s THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE; Ti Green for PARADISE LOST at Bristol Old Vic; and Laura Hopkins for OTHELLO at Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton.

THE OPUS AWARD FOR BEST TOURING PRODUCTION - GONE TO EARTH, a play with music by Helen Edmundson based on the novel by Mary Webb, Shared Experience; THE PERMANENT WAY by David Hare, Out of Joint and the National Theatre; and THE WOODEN FROCK adapted by Tom Morris and Emma Rice, Kneehigh Theatre and BAC in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse.

THE EQUITY AWARD FOR BEST SHOW FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE - ARTHUR, THE STORY OF A KING, Wee Stories and The Scottish Touring Consortium, co-created by Andy Cannon, Iain Johnstone and David Trouton; BEASTS AND BEAUTIES – EIGHT TALES FROM EUROPE at Bristol Old Vic; and BEST BEHAVIOUR, devised and directed by Mark Storor at Polka Theatre.

MOST WELCOMING THEATRE - Devonshire Park, Eastbourne; The Orange Tree, Richmond; and Theatre Royal, Norwich.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE - Henri Oguike for his new work WHITE SPACE and his fearless, accomplished repertory; Scottish Ballet for sure-footed modernisation under Ashley Page and dynamic performances; and Lynn Seymour for her inspirational coaching at Birmingham Royal Ballet and Rambert Dance Company.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA - Vladimir Jurowski for his conducting of PARSIFAL for WNO; Opera North for its Eight Little Greats Season at Leeds and on tour; and Christopher Alden for his direction of LA VIDA BREVA and DJAMILEH for Opera North.