This article was updated at 7:36 pm
Arthur and his knights found a holy grail Tuesday as “Monty Python’s Spamalot” led the field with 14 Tony nominations, including musical, score, book, director and multiple acting mentions.
Competing with that show in the all-important musical category are “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” about a pair of con men on the French Riviera, and “The Light in the Piazza,” a romantic tale of an American mother and daughter in 1950s Florence. Each tuner scored 11 noms.
Rounding out the contenders for musical is “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which got six mentions. Chronicling the secret yearnings of young contestants in a regional spelling faceoff, the modestly scaled show recently transferred from Off Broadway.
After landing the Pulitzer as well as a handful of industry awards this season, John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” leads the field of plays, with eight nods. Story of a nun’s witch-hunt in a Bronx Catholic school against a priest she suspects of pedophilia, play’s noms include play, director Doug Hughes and all four of its cast members: Cherry Jones and Brian F. O’Byrne in the lead spots and Heather Goldenhersh and Adriane Lenox for featured actress.
Also vying for play in a narrow field this year are Michael Frayn’s “Democracy” and August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” both closed, and Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman.” Latter’s six noms include director John Crowley, leading actor Billy Crudup and featured actor Michael Stuhlbarg; Jeff Goldblum’s much-praised perf was a surprise shutout.
The strength of “Spamalot” height-ened comparisons that have been circulating between that show and Broadway’s last instant monster hit, “The Producers,” which scored 15 noms four years ago and went on to win a record dozen.
Composer David Yazbek, who competed against “Producers” with his “The Full Monty” score, again is competing against a musical comedy behemoth: Courtesy of his “Scoun-drels” score, he is up against “Spama-lot” tunesmiths John Du Prez and Eric Idle as well as Adam Guettel for “Piazza” and William Finn for “Spell-ing Bee.”
While most years have seen the musical race dominated by one or two clear front-runners, this year’s field seems relatively open, with all four contenders having a chance. “Spama-lot” has insider Broadway pastiche humor and commercial muscle in its favor; “Scoundrels” can bank on major support for Yazbek, who many feel is due recognition; “Spelling Bee” is this year’s feisty underdog equivalent of 2004 winner “Avenue Q”; and “Piazza” stands alone as the most serious fare in the quartet (not to mention having musical royalty in its corner with Guettel, the grandson of Richard Rodgers).
Equally significant, all four con-tenders were cited in the musical, book, score and direction categories. Broad-way vets Mike Nichols (“Spamalot”), Jack O’Brien (“Scoundrels”) and James Lapine (“Spelling Bee”) compete in the helming category with Rialto new-comer Bartlett Sher (“Piazza”).
Star clout often provides vital box office adrenaline on Broadway, but the Tony nominating committee clearly was not swayed by Hollywood names. High-profile omissions in the thesp categories include Jessica Lange in “The Glass Menagerie” and Denzel Washington in “Julius Caesar”; both productions came away empty-handed.
Also locked out was David Hyde Pierce for “Spamalot,” whose co-stars Tim Curry and Hank Azaria figure for leading actor; tuner’s Christopher Sieber, Michael McGrath and Sara Ramirez landed featured acting noms. Pundits widely considered the “Frasier” star a supporting player in the cast, indicating it might have been a mistake to push him in the lead category.
Other co-stars squaring off for actor honors include John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz, playing high-toned and low-class shysters, respectively, in “Scoundrels.” From the same cast, Sherie Rene Scott is up for actress in a musical while Joanna Gleason vies for featured actress.
Multiple noms from the same cast also went to Alan Alda, Liev Schreiber and Gordon Clapp as featured actors in David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The play’s six nominations include direction (Joe Mantello) and revival of a play. The decision by the Tony noms panel to consider Alda and Schreiber as featured rather than lead actors ruffled the feathers of the pro-ducers.
Like “Doubt,” the revival of Ed-ward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” secured a perfect scorecard of noms for its four-member cast, with Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in lead slots and Mireille Enos and David Harbour featured. Albee will receive a special Tony for lifetime achievement.
The play revival category was the most crowded this year, with 13 productions eligible.
In addition to “Glengarry” and “Woolf,” contenders are “On Golden Pond” and “Twelve Angry Men.” Those productions also scored lead actor noms for James Earl Jones and Philip Bosco, respectively, while “Twelve Angry Men” helmer Scott Ellis landed a directing mentions in a race that unites new plays and revivals.
Major shutout in the play revival race was “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which landed recognition for featured actress Amy Ryan but failed to register a nom for previous Tony winner Natasha Richardson or for her cast-against-type co-star John C. Reilly.
The musical revival stakes are somewhat lower this year, with only three potential shows up for considera-tion; all of them inevitably made the ballot despite mixed critical receptions. Both “La Cage aux Folles” and “Sweet Charity” are given added heft by contenders in lead acting races, Gary Beach as a maternal drag diva in the former and Christina Applegate as the eponymous, emotionally bruised taxi dancer in the latter. The third revival candidate, “Pacific Overtures,” closed earlier this year but made an unexpect-edly strong showing with four noms including sets, costumes and orchestra-tions.
Although not up for the top musical prize this season, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” took five noms including featured spots for Marc Kudisch and Jan Maxwell as the campy Baron and Baroness of Vulgaria.
Left out in the cold with no men-tions were new tuners “All Shook Up” and “Brooklyn” as well as two that have already shuttered, “Dracula” and “Good Vibrations.” “Little Women” received only one, for lead actress Sutton Foster. Together with “Brook-lyn,” the adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic has suffered at the box office in recent weeks and looks to be an early Tony nom casualty.
Often in the past, the nominating committee has overlooked the merits of productions that closed earlier in the season. However, the 2005 crop includes actress mention for Laura Linney in “Sight Unseen”; Mary-Louise Parker in “Reckless”; and last year’s winner, Phylicia Rashad, in “Gem.”
More unexpected was the exclusion of Donald Margulies’ play “Brooklyn Boy,” for which lead Adam Arkin and featured actress Ari Graynor were considered strong contenders.
For the first time in its history, the Tonys divided the categories for design awards, separating plays from musi-cals, which have tended to dominate the category.
Nominations in the 25 categories were announced in New York by Alan Cumming, Lynn Redgrave, Kate Burton and Brian Stokes Mitchell, broadcast live on CBS’ “The Early Show.”
The Tony Awards ceremony will take place June 5 at Radio City Music Hall, with last year’s winner of actor in a musical, Hugh Jackman, returning for his third consecutive hosting stint.
“Democracy” by Michael Frayn
“Doubt” by John Patrick Shanley
“Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson
“The Pillowman” by Martin McDonagh
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
“The Light in the Piazza”
“Monty Python’s Spamalot”
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
BOOK OF A MUSICAL
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” by Jeffrey Lane
“The Light in the Piazza” by Craig Lucas
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” by Eric Idle
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by Rachel Sheinkin
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” by David Yazbek
“The Light in the Piazza” by Adam Guettel
“Monty Python’s Spamalot,” music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, lyrics by Eric Idle
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by William Finn
REVIVAL OF A PLAY
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
“Glengarry Glen Ross”
“On Golden Pond”
“Twelve Angry Men”
REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
“La Cage aux Folles”
SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT
“Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance!”
“Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show”
LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Philip Bosco, “Twelve Angry Men”
Billy Crudup, “The Pillowman”
Bill Irwin, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
James Earl Jones, “On Golden Pond”
Brian F. O’Byrne, “Doubt”
LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Cherry Jones, “Doubt”
Laura Linney, “Sight Unseen”
Mary-Louise Parker, “Reckless”
Phylicia Rashad, “Gem of the Ocean”
Kathleen Turner, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Hank Azaria, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Gary Beach, “La Cage aux Folles”
Norbert Leo Butz, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Tim Curry, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
John Lithgow, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Christina Applegate, “Sweet Charity”
Victoria Clark, “The Light in the Piazza”
Erin Dilly, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Sutton Foster, “Little Women”
Sherie Rene Scott, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Alan Alda, “Glengarry Glen Ross”
Gordon Clapp, “Glengarry Glen Ross”
David Harbour, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Liev Schreiber, “Glengarry Glen Ross”
Michael Stuhlbarg, “The Pillowman”
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Mireille Enos, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Heather Goldenhersh, “Doubt”
Dana Ivey, “The Rivals”
Adriane Lenox, “Doubt”
Amy Ryan, “A Streetcar Named Desire”
FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Dan Fogler, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Marc Kudisch, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Michael McGrath, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Matthew Morrison, “The Light in the Piazza”
Christopher Sieber, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Joanna Gleason, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Celia Keenan-Bolger, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Jan Maxwell, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Kelli O’Hara, “The Light in the Piazza”
Sara Ramirez, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
John Lee Beatty, “Doubt”
David Gallo, “Gem of the Ocean”
Santo Loquasto, “Glengarry Glen Ross”
Scott Pask, “The Pillowman”
SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Rumi Matsui, “Pacific Overtures”
Anthony Ward, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Michael Yeargan, “The Light in the Piazza”
COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Jess Goldstein, “The Rivals”
Jane Greenwood, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
William Ivey Long, “A Streetcar Named Desire”
Constanza Romero, “Gem of the Ocean”
COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Junko Koshino, “Pacific Overtures”
William Ivey Long, “La Cage aux Folles”
Catherine Zuber, “The Light in the Piazza”
LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Pat Collins, “Doubt”
Donald Holder, “Gem of the Ocean”
Donald Holder, “A Streetcar Named Desire”
Brian MacDevitt, “The Pillowman”
LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Christopher Akerlind, “The Light in the Piazza”
Mark Henderson, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Kenneth Posner, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Hugh Vanstone, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
DIRECTION OF A PLAY
John Crowley, “The Pillowman”
Scott Ellis, “Twelve Angry Men”
Doug Hughes, “Doubt”
Joe Mantello, “Glengarry Glen Ross”
DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
James Lapine, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Mike Nichols, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Jack O’Brien, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Bartlett Sher, “The Light in the Piazza”
Wayne Cilento, “Sweet Charity”
Jerry Mitchell, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Jerry Mitchell, “La Cage aux Folles”
Casey Nicholaw, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Larry Hochman, “Monty Python’s Spamalot”
Ted Sperling, Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin, “The Light in the Piazza”
Jonathan Tunick, “Pacific Overtures”
Harold Wheeler, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”
Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Minneapolis, Minnesota