The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards will take place at lunchtime at the Prince of Wales Theatre on the earlier than usual date of January 15. They will be the first event in the Circle's centenary year. Hurrah! When first formed in 1913, the Circle was entirely devoted to theatre and only later invited the other arts to participate.
The winner of the Best Actor award is, of course, a secret, but I can say that it will be presented by Michael Billington, who was awarded an OBE in the recent new year's honours list. It's a well-deserved reward for a career of considerable distinction. Michael has been deftly guiding Guardian readers through the thicket of British and international theatre for forty-two years. 'State of the Nation', his account of post-war theatre, has already become the go-to book for the period.
But who will he be giving the award to? Simon Russell-Beale for 'Timon of Athens' or 'Privates on Parade'? Mark Rylance for 'Richard 3' and 'Twelfth Night'? Rory Kinnear for 'The Last of the Haussmans'? David Suchet for 'Long Day's Journey into Night'? Or Luke Treadaway for 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'? And who will the best actress be? Fiona Shaw for 'Scenes from an Execution'? Cate Blanchett for 'Big and Small'? Eve Best for 'Duchess of Malfi'? Or, quite probably, none of these.
There are seven other categories to mull over (not nearly as many as at the top heavy Standard awards this year), plus a one-off award to acknowledge a very special achievement that fits none of the usual categories.
Winners will be announced here on Jan 16.
Enquiries about the Critics' Circle should be made to the Hon Gen Sec Rick Jones by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8698 2460.