Outer Critics weigh in

Noms often don't serve as indicators of overall awards frontrunners

The nominations list of the Outer Critics Circle Awards is always a little iffy as an indicator of what productions will emerge as frontrunners in the annual round of spring legit kudos, but the 2010 roster — topped by tuner “Memphis” and play revival “The Royal Family,” with seven noms each — nonetheless has a few notable elements.

Brit hit “Enron,” which recently began Broadway previews in a fairly risky commercial production, came away empty-handed, repping an early opinion on a show that will not see Gotham reviews until after its opening today. “Fences,” which opened Monday, scored four nods, including one for play revival and acting noms for topliner Denzel Washington and co-star Viola Davis.

Collected Stories,” the Manhattan Theater Club production that opens Wednesday, also didn’t get any Outer Critics love. The Roundabout’s staging of “Everyday Rapture,” which finishes off the 2009-10 Broadway season with an opening set for Thursday, was eligible for the Outer Critics last year in its original Off Broadway bow.

Next year’s likely Broadway candidate, “The Scottsboro Boys,” scored six noms in its Off Broadway preem this season, while Rialto offerings “The Addams Family” and “Promises, Promises,” plus Off Broadway shows “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” (also a Main Stem possibility), tallied five apiece.

Starriest category proved to be actor in a play, which includes Jude Law (“Hamlet”), Liev Schreiber (“A View From the Bridge”), Christopher Walken (“A Behanding in Spokane”) and Washington, along with “Orphans’ Home” thesp Bill Heck. Celeb wattage is unsurprising given the large number of star-driven play productions on the boards this season.

Conclusions or prognostications are difficult to draw from the Outer Critics Circle, the association of journos who cover legit for outlets outside Gotham. Big-budget spectacles often nab the most noms from the Outer Critics, although in many cases these shows fail to stir much award interest in other kudo pools.

Last year the 10 noms for “Billy Elliot,” which went on to sweep many awards including the Tonys, tied with oft-overlooked “Shrek the Musical.” Prior forerunners on the Outer Critics noms list have included “Young Frankenstein” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” which didn’t turn out to be award faves.

Still, the noms list and the ultimate winners, which will be announced May 17, could indicate titles that might do well on the road.

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