Standard sets theater noms

London kudos warm to 'Frost'

Peter Morgan’s Donmar Warehouse hit “Frost/Nixon” was the heavy hitter in nominations for London’s 52nd Evening Standard Theater Awards, announced Thursday.

The production, which moved to the West End this week and is expected to transfer to Broadway before the end of this season, landed noms for play, director Michael Grandage, actor Michael Sheen and designer Christopher Oram. One of the major surprises, however, was the exclusion of Frank Langella in the actor stakes for his role as Richard Nixon.

Nominated for best play, alongside “Frost/Nixon,” are Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer.”

Sheen’s rivals for the actor prize are Bill Irwin in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Rufus Sewell in “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and Kevin Spacey in “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” the latter production also tipped for a Broadway move this season.

Second surprise of the noms was the shutout of Eve Best, who slugs it out onstage with Spacey in the O’Neill classic and was expected to land an actress mention. Competing in that category are Sinead Cusack in “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Frances O’Connor in “Tom and Viv” and Kathleen Turner in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

If productivity is anything to go by, Grandage has the edge on the director award — he’s nominated not just for “Frost/Nixon” but for “The Wild Duck,” also at the Donmar, and “Evita,” at the Adelphi.

However, Grandage won the prize last year, and the judges, a triumvirate of critics and senior figures on the Evening Standard, may favor either Anthony Page for “Virginia Woolf” or new talent Marianne Elliot, who boosted her reputation with her National Theater debut production of Ibsen’s “Pillars of the Community.”

With 25 tuners currently running in London, the musical award is hotly contested. “Wicked” has been passed over, but “Caroline, or Change,” “Evita,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “Sunday in the Park With George” are all in contention. “Evita” star Elena Roger is up for the newcomer prize.

Awards will be presented Nov. 27 at the Savoy Hotel.

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