Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre leads this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards longlist with 22 entries, followed by the Royal Court with 13 nominations.
The most longlistedplay this year is the The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel about a boy with Asperger’s which opened at the NT's Cottesloe in August.
The longlist reflects a heavy-weight year for women with the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress nominees underscoring Ibsen's continued relevance: Sheridan Smith is named for her playing the title role in Hedda Gabler; Hattie Morahan was praised as the trapped housewife Nora in A Doll’s House; and Joely Richardson was named for her portrayal of Ellida in Lady from the Sea - a poignant nomination because her performance followed both her mother Vanessa Redgrave's 1979 as well as the 2009 portrayal by her late sister, Natasha, in whose memory the award is given.
New Donmar chief Josie Rourke is up for Best Director for her staging of The Recruiting Officer. At the Tricycle, successor to Nicolas Kent Indhu Rubasingham’s opening production, new play Red Velvet, wins a longlist place for its first-time author, Lolita Chakrabarti, in The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright category.
Red Velvet also offers Adrian Lester the chance to pick up the award for Best Actor, as real-life 19th century black actor Ira Aldridge, who was hounded off the London stage.
Battling it out with Lester and others for Best Actor are Eddie Redmayne, Simon Paisley Day and Michael Sheen – all for their leading roles in Shakespeare productions, with Redmayne playing Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse, Paisley Day playing Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew and Sheen in the Young Vic’s production of Hamlet.
This year’s awards has eight categories: with Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Design, Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress, Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical, Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer and Charles Wintour Award for Most PromisingPlaywright – an award named in memory of the former Editor of the Evening Standard and Anna Wintour’s father.
In addition to eight longlisted awards, which are decided by a panel of theatre critics and London Evening Standard’s editor, Sarah Sands, five other special awards will be presented on the night. These are the Burberry Award for Emerging Director (new for this year), the Lebedev Special Award, the Editor’s Award, Beyond Theatre and the Moscow Art Theatre’s Golden Seagull.
The shortlist will be announced in the London Evening Standard on 12 November.