Chichester Festival’s “Macbeth of a lifetime” leads the field in this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Award shortlists, published today, with a total of three nominations. The National Theatre’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s novel War Horse and Royal Court playwright Polly Stenham’s debut That Face also received multiple nominations, two apiece.

For That Face, Polly Stenham has been nominated for the Most Promising Playwright prize, which carries with it a cheque for £25,000. Her play, which ran earlier this year at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs and which has already won the TMA Award for Best New Play (See News, 22 Oct 2007), has also earned actor Matt Smith (now in the West End opposite Christian Slater in Swimming with Sharks) a nod for Outstanding Newcomer.

War Horse receives nominations for both Best Director (jointly for Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris) and Best Design (Rae Smith and the Handspring Puppet Company). Its nods contribute to six overall for the National.

War Horse competes in both of its categories with Macbeth, now transferred to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, and its director Rupert Goold and designer Anthony Ward. The Shakespearean production’s third nomination goes to star Patrick Stewart who, having already triumphed at last month’s TMA Awards, is up for a second Best Actor trophy for his title performance.

Other big names in the performance contests include Charles Dance, Robert Lindsay and Mark Rylance for Best Actor, and Anne-Marie Duff, Billie Piper, Penelope Wilton and one-word monikered New Yorker Portia for Best Actress. Commenting on the calibre of performers considered for these categories, Evening Standard critic and judge Nicholas de Jongh said: "In the 14 or 15 years on the panel, this is the best year for acting I can remember."

In the Best Musical category, just-opened Broadway blockbuster import Hairspray goes head-to-head with Sheffield Crucible’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof, now at the Savoy, and the Donmar Warehouse’s London premiere of Parade.

The first prize-giving of the awards season – ahead of the Critics’ Circle, the Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage.com’s own Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, all of which are announced in the new year – the Evening Standard Awards are announced in a ceremony hosted by Richard Wilson at the Savoy on 27 November 2007.

This year, for the first time, the newspaper also published its awards longlists, comprising every individual and production submitted by the judges as awards-worthy (See News, 1 Nov 2007). The Standard Awards are decided by a panel of critics from the Mail on Sunday (Georgina Brown), Observer (Susannah Clapp), Times (Benedict Nightingale) and Daily Telegraph (Charles Spencer) as well as the Standard itself (Nicholas de Jongh).

- by Terri Paddock


The full shortlists in this year’s 53rd annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards, which covers openings up until the end of October 2007, are:

BEST PLAY

  • A Disappearing Number - Simon McBurney and Complicite (Barbican)
  • Rafta, Rafta - Ayub Khan-Din (NT Lyttelton)
  • The Reporter - Nicholas Wright (NT Cottesloe)

    BEST ACTOR

  • Charles Dance - Shadowlands (Wyndham’s)
  • Robert Lindsay - The Entertainer (Old Vic)
  • Mark Rylance – Boeing-Boeing (Comedy)
  • Patrick Stewart - Macbeth (Gielgud)

    BEST ACTRESS

  • Anne-Marie Duff - Saint Joan (NT Olivier)
  • Billie Piper - Treats (Garrick)
  • Portia - A Member of the Wedding (Young Vic)
  • Penelope Wilton - John Gabriel Borkman (Donmar Warehouse)

    BEST DESIGN

  • Felix Barrett & Punchdrunk - The Masque of the Red Death (BAC)
  • Robin Don - The Emperor Jones (NT Olivier)
  • Rae Smith & Adrian Kohler for the Handspring Puppet Company - War Horse (NT Olivier)
  • Anthony Ward - Macbeth (Garrick)

    THE SYDNEY EDWARDS AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

  • Marianne Elliott & Tom Morris - War Horse (NT Olivier)
  • Rupert Goold - Macbeth (Gielgud)
  • Tim Supple - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Roundhouse)

    THE NED SHERRIN AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL

  • Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy)
  • Parade (Donmar Warehouse)
  • Hairspray (Shaftesbury)

    THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT

  • Hassan Abdulrazzak - Baghdad Wedding (Soho)
  • Lucy Caldwell - Leaves (Royal Court Upstairs)
  • Polly Stenham - That Face (Royal Court Upstairs)

    THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER

  • Amanda Hale - The Glass Menagerie (Apollo)
  • Matt Smith - That Face (Royal Court Upstairs)
  • Stephen Wight - Dealer's Choice/Don Juan in Soho (Menier Chocolate Factory/ Donmar Warehouse)