THE 2011 TONY NOMINEES



FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Who says Broadway won’t take a risk?

THE BOOK OF MORMON and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS — two very different musicals with very different fates — have emerged with the most TONY AWARD nominations this season.

MORMON, which induces giggles with its diarrhea jokes and songs about body parts and SCOTTSBORO, a searing look at a racial injustice that features a graphic whipping, clearly pushed the boundaries of traditional Broadway fare.

One paid off. The other did not.

“People are excited when they sit down in those seats because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” said RORY O’MALLEY, whose turn in MORMON earned him a nomination for BEST FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL).

“This is dangerous in the best sense.”

That could also sum up the sentiment created by JOHN KANDER and FRED EBB’S SCOTTSBORO, based on the real story of nine black teenagers wrongly put on death row in the 1930s for allegedly raping two white girls. It closed abruptly in December after playing just 49 performances and 29 previews.

The musical frames the story as a minstrel show — that deeply racist storytelling device performed by whites in blackface — and then immediately subverts it by having an all black cast. Some performances of the show even drew protesters who claimed the musical was actually embracing the minstrel convention.

“It was a subversive piece and a piece that was going to push buttons, stir hearts. But we also knew that it was the truth,” commented JOSHUA HENRY, who won a BEST ACTOR nomination for playing the lead Scottsboro boy.

“I’m just happy that we weren’t forgotten and it does give me faith in daring theatre.”

MORMON, which received 14 nominations and SCOTTSBORO, which got 12 nods, face competition for the title of best musical from two shows inspired by movies: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and SISTER ACT.

The four nominated plays include the heartwarming human puppet hybrid WAR HORSE, which was a huge hit in London, DAVID LINDSEY ABAIRE’S blue collar GOOD PEOPLE, JEZ BUTTERWORTH’S vanishing English tale JERUSALEM and STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGUS’ searing recovery story THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT.

BRIAN BEDFORD’S Broadway production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, which originated at Ontario’s STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL in 2009, landed three nominations, including BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY and BEST ACTOR for BRIAN BEDFORD.

Among individual actors who earned nominations were AL PACINO, who played SHYLOCK in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, VANESSA REDGRAVE in DRIVING MISS DAISY, EDIE FALCO in THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES and ELLEN BARKIN in THE NORMAL HEART.

Overlooked were JAMES EARL JONES in DRIVING MISS DAISY, DANIEL RADCLIFFE in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING and BEN STILLER in THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES.

Unfortunately KATHY GRIFFIN did not get a nomination, despite calling her one person show KATHY GRIFFIN WANTS A TONY.

With 14 nods, THE BOOK OF MORMON takes its place among Broadway musicals with the most citations in TONY history, just below THE PRODUCERS and BILLY ELLIOT, which each received 15 nominations.

About two Mormon missionaries who find more than they bargained for in Africa, the musical was written by TREY PARKER and MATT STONE, the idiosyncratic minds behind COMEDY CENTRAL’S off the wall SOUTH PARK and ROBERT LOPEZ, co creator of the equally irreverent TONY AWARD winning musical AVENUE Q. All got nominations for the MUSIC, BOOK and LYRICS. CASEY NICHOLAW won a BEST CHOREOGRAPHY nomination for the show and shared honours with TREY PARKER for BEST DIRECTION (MUSICAL).

The TONY nominations for THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS may give producers an argument to put the work back on Broadway. It had started off Broadway and critical acclaim paved the way for a Broadway run. Producer BARRY WEISSLER had been seeking support from the theatregoing public to resurrect the show by pledging to buy tickets if it is remounted.

In the BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL) category, JOSHUA HENRY faces competition from NORBERT LEO BUTZ in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, TONY SHELDON from PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT and JOSH GAD and ANDREW RANNELLS, both from THE BOOK OF MORMON.

NORBERT LEO BUTZ told his 14 year old daughter about the nomination after she got home from school.

“She’s thrilled. She said, ‘Dad, maybe this time I can come.’ She’s trying to bribe me into coming to the ceremony. I said, ‘You know what? Let’s just take it a day at a time.”’

VANESSA REDGRAVE goes up against NINA ARIANDA from BORN YESTERDAY, FRANCES McDORMAND in GOOD PEOPLE, LILY RABE from THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and HANNAH YELLAND in BRIEF ENCOUNTER in the BEST ACTRESS category.

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL) will contain LAURA BENANTI from WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, TAMMY BLANCHARD in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, VICTORIA CLARK of SISTER ACT, PATTI LUPONE in WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN and NIKKI M. JAMES for MORMON.

The good news came on a special day for NIKKI M. JAMES: Tuesday was also the twelfth anniversary of her father’s death.

“It’s sort of a bittersweet moment but I bet he has something to do with it. It feels almost like kismet.”

VICTORIA CLARK learned she had received a nomination while walking her dog, which was appropriate since she was also walking her dog when she found out she’d gotten the part of Mother Superior in SISTER ACT.

“I always get important phone calls when I’m walking the dog.”

TAMMY BLANCHARD said she started shaking and crying when she got the news.

“You spend your whole life as an actress as some kind of gypsy woman, facing rejection. Just waiting for months — sometimes years — for that special role.”

The COLE PORTER comedy ANYTHING GOES was nominated for nine awards, including BEST REVIVAL (with HOW TO SUCCEED — the only shows nodded in the category) and BEST ACTRESS for SUTTON FOSTER, who faces PATINA MILLER for SISTER ACT, DONNA MURPHY from THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE and BETH LEAVEL for BABY IT’S YOU!

SUTTON FOSTER, who already has a TONY, found out she had earned her fifth nomination by getting several text messages while still in bed. She has little time to enjoy the moment, though, as she was preparing for Tuesday night’s performance.

“It never stops,” she said, laughing.

PATINA MILLER, who stepped into WHOOPI GOLDBERG’S role from the 1992 movie, feels that SISTER ACT is close to her heart.

“It was meant for me. I hoped and prayed I would get the opportunity. So when the opportunity came, I just went with it.”

The category for BEST ACTOR has AL PACINO, BRIAN BEDFORD in THE IMPORANCE OF BEING EARNEST, BOBBY CANNAVALE in THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT, JOE MANTELLO in THE NORMAL HEART and MARK RYLANCE in JERUSALEM.

BRIAN BEDFORD, who plays the fearsome Lady Bracknell in the OSCAR WILDE comedy, had one small regret — that he also didn’t pick up a nomination for BEST DIRECTOR.

“But that seems a bit greedy,” he remarked with a laugh.

Instead, director nods went to MARIANNE ELLIOTT and TOM MORRIS for WAR HORSE, JOEL GREY and GEORGE C. WOLFE for THE NORMAL HEART, ANNA D. SHAPIRO for THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT and DANIEL SULLIVAN for THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL) nominations went to ROB ASHFORD for HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, KATHLEEN MARSHALL for ANYTHING GOES, CASEY NICHOLAW and TREY PARKER for THE BOOK OF MORMON and SUSAN STROMAN for THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS.

Playwright LARRY KRAMER, whose THE NORMAL HEART got five nominations, including BEST REVIVAL , acknowledged that the success of the AIDS play surprised even him. A reading in February that led to the Broadway run struck everyone with its timeliness, even though it was written in the 1980s.

“I’m very moved that it moved so many people.”

Here are the 2011 TONY nominees in selected categories…

BEST PLAY
GOOD PEOPLE
JERUSALEM
THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT
WAR HORSE

BEST MUSICAL
THE BOOK OF MORMON
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
SISTER ACT

BEST REVIVAL (PLAY)
ARCADIA
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
THE NORMAL HEART

BEST REVIVAL (MUSICAL)
ANYTHING GOES
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

BEST ACTRESS (PLAY)
NINA ARIANDA – BORN YESTERDAY
FRANCES McDORMAND – GOOD PEOPLE
LILY RABE – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
VANESSA REDGRAVE – DRIVING MISS DAISY
HANNAH YELLAND – BRIEF ENCOUNTER

BEST ACTOR (PLAY)
BRIAN BEDFORD – THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
BOBBY CANNAVALE – THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT
JOE MANTELLO – THE NORMAL HEART
AL PACINO – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
MARK RYLANCE – JERUSALEM

BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL)
SUTTON FOSTER – ANYTHING GOES
BETH LEAVEL – BABY IT’S YOU!
PATINA MILLER – SISTER ACT
DONNA MURPHY – THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL)
NORBERT LEO BUTZ – CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
JOSH GAD – THE BOOK OF MORMON
JOSHUA HENRY – THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
ANDREW RANNELLS – THE BOOK OF MORMON
TONY SHELTON – PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT

FEATURED ACTRESS (PLAY)
ELLEN BARKIN – THE NORMAL HEART
EDIE FALCO – THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES
JUDITH LIGHT – LOMBARDI
JOANNA LUMLEY – LA BETE
ELIZABETH RODRIGUEZ – THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT

FEATURED ACTOR (PLAY)
MACKENZIE CROOK – JERUSALEM
BILLY CRUDUP – ARCADIA
JOHN BENJAMIN HICKEY – THE NORMAL HEART
ARIAN MOAYED – BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO
YUL VAZQUEZ – THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT

FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL)
LAURA BENANTI – WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
TAMMY BLANCHARD – HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
VICTORIA CLARK – SISTER ACT
NIKKI M. JAMES – THE BOOK OF MORMON
PATTI LUPONE – WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL)
COLMAN DOMINGO – THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
ADAM GODLEY – ANYTHING GOES
JOHN LARROQUETTE – HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
FORREST McCLENDON – THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
RORY O’MALLEY – THE BOOK OF MORMON

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
THE BOOK OF MORMON
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
SISTER ACT

DIRECTION (PLAY)
MARIANNE ELLIOTT & TOM MORRIS – WAR HORSE
JOEL GREY & GEORGE C. WOLFE – THE NORMAL HEART
ANNA D. SHAPIRO – THE MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT
DANIEL SULLIVAN – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

DIRECTION (MUSICAL)
ROB ASHFORD – HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
KATHLEEN MARSHALL – ANYTHING GOES
CASEY NICHOLAW & TREY PARKER – THE BOOK OF MORMON
SUSAN STROMAN – THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS

CHOREOGRAPHY
ROB ASHFORD – HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
KATHLEEN MARSHALL – ANYTHING GOES
CASEY NICHOLAW – THE BOOK OF MORMON
SUSAN STROMAN – THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS

COSTUME DESIGN (PLAY)
JESS GOLDSTEIN – THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
DESMOND HEELEY – THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
MARK THOMPSON – LA BETE
CATHERINE ZUBER – BORN YESTERDAY

COSTUME DESIGN (MUSICAL)
TIM CHAPPEL & LIZZY GARDINER – PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT
MARTIN PAKLEDINAZ – ANYTHING GOES
ANN ROTH – THE BOOK OF MORMON
CATHERINE ZUBER – HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE
ATHOL FUGARD, PHILIP J. SMITH

REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD
LOOKINGGLASS THEATRE COMPANY (CHICAGO)

ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD
EVE ENSLER

The TONY AWARDS, which are presented by THE BROADWAY LEAGUE and THE AMERICAN THEATRE WING, will be handed out JUNE 12 at the BEACON THEATRE, broadcast live by CBS.

ON LINE:

TONY AWARDS

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