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Comedian Lenny Henry nominated for stage newcomer award

11th November 2009

Comedian Lenny Henry has been nominated for a London Evening Standard theatre award - for outstanding newcomer. Lenny was first seen as Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. 

The 51-year-old has been cited for his Shakespearean acting debut in Othello, currently running in London's West End.

Lenny will vie with three less well known names - Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Ben Powley and Tom Sturridge for the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer.

Rachel Weisz's work in A Streetcar Named Desire sees her up for the best actress award - which has been renamed this year in honour of the late Natasha Richardson.

Enron, the play based on the collapse of the US energy giant in 2001, is up for best play, best director and best actor.

So is Jerusalem, a play about contemporary rural England that, like Enron, also enjoyed sold-out success at the Royal Court theatre earlier this year.

In all, Royal Court productions or co-productions have generated 11 of this year's nominations.

Sam West and Mark Rylance are recognised for their respective work in Enron and Jerusalem, both of which will have West End runs in the New Year.

Simon Russell Beale and Ken Stott - respectively seen in West End productions of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge - complete the best actor shortlist.

Henry Hitchings, the Evening Standard's chief theatre critic, said the best actor category was "particularly strong" this year.

"When we had the discussion about best actor, there were lots of good names in the mix," he continued.

Other familiar names in the running this year include Juliet Stevenson, up for best actress for her work as a violinist with multiple sclerosis in Duet for One.

The winners will be announced on 23 November at a lunchtime ceremony at the Royal Opera House, to be hosted by broadcaster Kirsty Young.

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