London’s Evening Standard newspaper today released its full list of nominations for the 50th annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Winners will be announced at a ceremony held at the National Theatre on Monday 13 December 2004, broadcast on ITV on 15 December.

Of the eight shortlisted categories, five are subsidised sector shut-outs: Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Designer as well as the Charles Wintor Award for New Playwriting. Overall, the National dominates with a total of ten nominations, followed by the Almeida with five, the Royal Court with three and the Young Vic and Donmar Warehouse with one apiece.

Collectively, the commercial West End musters only five nominations, two of them for productions transferred from subsidised regional theatres - Suddenly Last Summer from Sheffield and Sweeney Todd from Newbury’s Watermill.

In individual show tallies, Alan Bennett’s The History Boys at the National and David Eldridge’s screen-to-stage adaptation of Festen for the Almeida (now transferred to the West End) are head-to-head with three nominations apiece. The History Boys receives nods for Best Play, Best Actor (Richard Griffiths) and Outstanding Newcomer (Dominic Cooper, also for His Dark Materials). Festen is up for Best Director (Rufus Norris), Best Designer (Ian MacNeil, Jean Kalman, Paul Arditti) and, for Eldridge, Wintour’s £30,000 bursary for new writing.

One glaring omission from this year's nominations is Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White. Instead of the world premiere, the Best Musical race is between two Stephen Sondheim revivals - Sweeney Todd and the National's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - and the London premiere of Mel Brooks' Broadway hit The Producers.

Other high-profile names that are in contention for this year's Evening Standard awards include Victoria Hamilton, Kelly Reilly, Luc Bondy, Simon McBurney, Douglas Hodge, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Edward Albee and Martin McDonagh.

In addition to the shortlisted categories, three 50th Anniversary Special Awards will be presented at the 13 December ceremony to one institution, one playwright and one other individual.

- by Terri Paddock

The full list of Evening Standard nominations is as follows:

BEST PLAY - The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? by Edward Albee, The History Boys by Alan Bennett, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.

BEST ACTOR - Richard Griffiths for The History Boys, Douglas Hodge for Dumb Show, Stanley Townsend for Shining City.

BEST ACTRESS - Pam Ferris for Notes on Falling Leaves, Victoria Hamilton for Suddenly Last Summer, Kelly Reilly for After Miss Julie.

BEST DIRECTOR - Luc Bondy for Cruel and Tender, Simon McBurney for Measure for Measure and Rufus Norris for Festen.

BEST DESIGNER - Hildegard Bechtler for Iphigenia at Aulis, Paul Brown for False Servant, Ian MacNeil, Jean Kalman and Paul Arditti for Festen.

BEST MUSICAL - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Producers, Sweeney Todd.

OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER - Dominic Cooper for His Dark Materials and The History Boys, Romola Garai for Calico, Eddie Redmayne for The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, Ben Whishaw for Hamlet.

CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR NEW PLAYWRITING - David Eldridge, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Owen McCafferty.