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