Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2016: The Shortlist
As the awards approach, we narrow down the contenders in our celebration of the year's best theatre

Evening Standard, 25 October 2016
By Robert Dex

'Harry Potter' star Noma Dumezweni is in the running to be named best actress at this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards — for a performance she was not expected to give.

The actress, who is currently playing Hermione in 'Harry Potter And The Cursed Child' in the West End, was recognised by the judges after she stepped in at the last minute to replace Kim Cattrall in Linda at the Royal Court Theatre. The 'Sex And The City' star had dropped out with only eight days to go.

Dumezweni, with script in hand, wowed the critics and audiences alike with her performance in the tale of the award-winning businesswoman whose life was falling apart.

The actress faces competition for the award, named after the late Natasha Richardson, from Helen McCrory, who is recognised for her performance in 'The Deep Blue Sea' at the National Theatre. The shortlist is completed by Sophie Melville, whose one-woman show 'Iphigenia In Splott' also ran at the National, and Billie Piper for her role in Yerma at the Young Vic.

Sir Kenneth Branagh’s performance in 'The Entertainer' at the Garrick lands him a place on the shortlist for best actor, alongside Ralph Fiennes, who is commended for his performances in 'The Master Builder' at the Old Vic and 'Richard III' at the Almeida, and Sir Ian McKellen for 'No Man’s Land', at Wyndham's. Also recognised are O-T Fagbenle for his performance in 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom' and James McArdle in 'Platonov' — both at the National Theatre.

Glenn Close is on the shortlist for best musical performance for her triumphant West End debut in 'Sunset Boulevard'. She lines up against Sheridan Smith, who plays the title role in 'Funny Girl', and Andy Karl, for his performance in 'Groundhog Day'.

The award for best play sees West End hit 'Harry Potter And The Cursed Child' competing with Annie Baker’s 'The Flick' and 'Father Comes Home From The Wars' (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks.

Other awards, including recognition for most promising playwright, in a category named after former Evening Standard editor Charles Wintour, and the emerging talent award, given out in partnership with Burberry, will also be presented on the night of Sunday November 13 at the Old Vic.

The ceremony will be co-hosted by Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev and Sir Elton John.

Mr Lebedev said: “The breadth of talent recognised in this year’s shortlist is astonishing and spans London’s diverse and superior theatre offering. It’s unsurprising that we’re the envy of the globe with generations of fantastic performers, writers and the finest in innovative productions.”

The winner of the Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for best musical is decided by a public vote, which closed yesterday.

The recipients of three more gongs — the Beyond Theatre Award, the Editor’s Award and the Lebedev Award — will also be revealed on the night, which is supported by Burberry, Christian Louboutin and Hiscox Home Insurance, official arts partner of the Evening Standard.

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