The Evening Standard kicked off the 08/09 British Theatre awards season announcing their longlist of theatrical heavy-weights, newcomers, regulars and Hollywood stars for the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
Kevin Spacey and Kenneth Branagh fight it out for the best actor accolade; Kev for Speed-The-Plow at the Old Vic, Ken for Ivanov, currently at Wyndham's.
Wanna be in their gang? Better get some Shakespeare into your repertoire. Alongside Branagh and Spacey in the best actor category are David Calder for Lear, Chiwetel Ejiofor for Othello, Simon Russell Beale for Much Ado at the National, and the wonderful Jonathan Slinger for his Richards in the phenomenal Histories series at the Roundhouse.
Fewer big names grace the Best Actress long list: Lesley Manville, Helen McCrory, Phoebe Nicholls, Lesley Sharp, Margaret Tyzack and Penelope Wilton.
The National comes up trumps with three productions in the Best Play category – The Pitmen Painters, Never So Good and Her Naked Skin – fight off the military pairing of Black Watch and Days Of Significance and political drama, Now Or Later.
Those in the running for Best Director include everyone's favourite Sheriff of Nottingham, Alan Rickman, who took time out from being in Harry Potter to direct Creditors at the Donmar.
Rickman faces strong competition from this Londonista's favourite, Rupert Goold (who won for his Macbeth last year, and we feel should get it on the strength of the incredible Six Characters in Search of an Author alone); big dog Michael Grandage, artistic director of the Donmar, and Michael Boyd, who, as the guy behind a huge chunk of the Histories series, is another name to watch.
See the full Evening Standards Theatre Awards Longlist here. What do you think? Wondering why Josh Hartnett's not on there? Confused about the inclusion of Eurobeat? Looking for Zorro's recognition? Let us know.
The shortlist's announced on Friday; watch this space.
Images shows our Kev in Speed-The-Plow at the Old Vic; picture by Manuel Harlan