Among the big names failing to make the cut from the longlists, which were announced last month, are actors James Corden, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Derek Jacobi, Ruth Wilson, Jude Law, Kevin Spacey and Dominic West.
The Best Actor category will feature two actors from the same production – Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternated as Frankenstein and The Creature at the National Theatre earlier this year.
They'll be up against Charles Edwards for his “towering performance” as Benedick in Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Much Ado About Nothing and Bertie Carvel for his cross-dressing turn as Miss Trunchbull in the RSC's Matilda, which is currently in previews at the Cambridge Theatre.
Best Director features Mike Leigh for his production of Grief at the NT Cottesloe, alongside Rob Ashford (Anna Christie), Dominic Cooke (Chicken Soup with Barley) and Edward Hall (Richard III & The Comedy of Errors).
Best Musical meanwhile will be contested between Betty Blue Eyes, which closed at the Novello in September, London Road (NT Cottesloe) and Matilda (RSC).
Evening Standard theatre critic Henry Hitchings said: “It's been a fantastic year for musicals, with memorable new writing making an impact in both the commercial and subsidised sectors, alongside a string of deft revivals. The National Theatre has had another strong year, and the general mood in London theatre has been reassuringly buoyant and robust, with starry openings balanced by a commitment to exploring topical issues.
“While it's not all good news, and the full impact of funding cuts has yet to be felt, Londoners have an incredible range of choice that would be the envy of theatregoers in any other city.”
The first prize-giving of the 'awards season' - ahead of the Critics’ Circle, the Laurence Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards (which opened nominations last week - click here to nominate now!) – this year’s Evening Standard Awards will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna Everage) at the Savoy Hotel on Sunday, 20 November 2011.
Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2011 Shortlist
THE NED SHERRIN AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL
THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT
THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER
N.B. This category is open not only to actors but also to creatives such as directors. No previously longlisted individual is eligible for consideration.