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THEATER TALK: Tony Award Nominations

Katie Buenneke |
May 1, 2012 | 12:27 p.m. PDT

Theater Editor

The nominations are in! As Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons announced bright and early this morning, the field of contenders for the 2012 Tony Awards has been established.

"Once," the new musical based on the movie of the same name, leads the pack with 11 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, Best Book, and Best Direction. The New York Theatre Works transfer is not a traditional musical, but if the voters are in the same mood that brought "Spring Awakening" eight Tony awards of its eleven nominations, this could be a good year for the Irish/Czech folk musical.

It looks like that show's main competition for the Best Musical prize is the much more traditional "Newsies," which earned 8 nominations, including Best Original Score (which it should be a sure bet to win), Best Actor in a Leading Role (very much deserved), and Best Book (not so deserved). Unsurprisingly, it was also nominated for Best Direction and Best Choreography.

The Gershwins did quite well for themselves this morning as well, with "Porgy and Bess" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" earning 10 nominations each, for a combined 20 nominations! (Not that George and Ira care that much at this point…) "Porgy and Bess" was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction, and Best Actor, Actress, and two Featured Actors in a Musical. "Nice Work" earned nominations for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Leading Actress, Best Featured Actor, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical, in addition to Kathleen Marshall's nominations for Direction and Choreography (both of which she was nominated for with last year's "Anything Goes," winning the latter).

Stephen Sondheim's "Follies" revival, which opens at the Ahmanson next week, earned eight nominations, including Best Revival and four acting nods.

The standouts in the play field are "Death of a Salesman," "Peter and the Starcatcher," and "One Man, Two Guvnors." "Salesman" brought in seven nominations, including Best Revival of a Play, Best Direction and acting nominations for the three stars (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield, and Linda Emond).

"Starcatcher," another NYTW transfer, had the most nominations of any play, with nine nods, including ones for Best Play, Best Actor and Actress in a Featured Role, Best Direction, and, in a move that doesn't surprise me, Best Original Score. While "Starcatcher" is a play, it has a few inventive songs that are capably sung by the talented cast, and those few songs, to be quite honest, were better than the scores to a lot of the new musicals on Broadway this season.

"One Man, Two Guvnors," which was completely ignored in the UK's Olivier Awards, picked up seven nominations in America, despite being deemed ineligible in the less competitive Best Revival of a Play category. It, too, was nominated for Best Score, in addition to recognition for the show's director, and its star, James Corden.

And now for the surprises: the critically-acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning "Clybourne Park" "only" received four nominations. Similarly, the lauded "Other Desert Cities" received a respectable five nominations, which is probably fewer than the producers were hoping for. I'm personally disappointed that "Lysistrata Jones," which has been ignored by many other awards ceremonies this year, was also ignored by the Tony committee, with only one nomination, for Best Book. And perhaps, most perplexingly, the much-eschewed "Leap of Faith" only received one nomination, but it was a big one—Best Musical!

In my book, the big categories to watch are Best Musical ("Once" vs. "Newsies"), Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Christian Borle vs. Andrew Garfield), and Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Philip Seymour Hoffman vs. James Corden). Tune into the Tony Awards on June 10 at 8 to see who wins!

See the full list of nominees here.

Reach Katie here or follow her on Twitter @kelisabethb.

For more Tony Awards coverage, click here.



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