Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov
(© Johan Persson)
Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov
(© Johan Persson)
The Donmar Warehouse netted a total of six nominations -- twice as many as any other theatre -- in the shortlists for this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Othello's Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ivanov's Kenneth Branagh go head-to-head for Best Actor, while The Chalk Garden co-stars Margaret Tyzack and Penelope Wilton compete against each other for Best Actress and their fellow cast member Felicity Jones is in the running for Outstanding Newcomer of the Year. The sixth Donmar nomination is for artistic director Michael Grandage, who is up for Best Director for his work on all three plays.

The Royal Court and Young Vic theatres each earned three nominations. There are two nods apiece too for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company (its artistic director Michael Boyd up for another Best Director award for The History Cycle) and the National Theatre of Scotland (for the London transfer of Black Watch). Controversially, the year's big Broadway import, Jersey Boys, which tells the story of the Four Seasons, did not make today's shortlists, though it was included on the longlists published earlier this week.

The first prize-giving of the awards season, the Evening Standard Awards are announced at a ceremony hosted by Richard Wilson at the Royal Opera House on November 24. 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), chaired by Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley.

The full shortlists of contenders in this year's 54th annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards, which covers openings up until the end of October 2008, are:

BEST PLAY
Black Watch - by Gregory Burke (National Theatre of Scotland at Barbican)
Now Or Later - by Christopher Shinn (Royal Court)
The Pitmen Painters - by Lee Hall (Live Theatre and National Theatre co-production)

BEST ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh - Ivanov (Donmar West End at Wyndham's)
David Calder - King Lear (Shakespeare's Globe)
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Othello (Donmar Warehouse)

BEST ACTRESS
Lesley Sharp - Harper Regan (National's Cottesloe)
Margaret Tyzack - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)
Penelope Wilton - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)

THE NED SHERRIN AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL
La Cage Aux Folles - Menier Chocolate Factory and Playhouse
Marguerite - Theatre Royal Haymarket
Street Scene - The Opera Group, Young Vic and Watford Palace Theatre co-production

THE SYDNEY EDWARDS AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR
Michael Boyd - The History Cycle (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Roundhouse)
Michael Grandage - Othello/The Chalk Garden/Ivanov (Donmar West End at Wyndham's and Donmar Warehouse)
John Tiffany - Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland at Barbican)

BEST DESIGN
Miriam Buether - In The Red And Brown Water (Young Vic)
Rob Howell - The Norman Conquests (Old Vic)
Neil Murray - Brief Encounter (Kneehigh at Cinema Haymarket Theatre)

THE MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER
Felicity Jones - The Chalk Garden (Donmar Warehouse)
Lex Shrapnel - Henry IV Part I (Royal Shakespeare Company at The Roundhouse)
Ella Smith - Fat Pig (Trafalgar Studios and Comedy Theatre)

THE CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT
Bola Agbaje - Gone Too Far (Royal Court)
Anupama Chandrasekhar - Free Outgoing (Royal Court)
Tarell Alvin McCraney - In The Red And Brown Water/The Brothers Size (Young Vic)

For more information, visit www.whatsonstage.com.