Legiters see kudos race as anybody's game

The 64th Annual Tony Awards ceremony is shaping up to be a starry night, with a celeb-studded list of nominees that could potentially boost the national appeal of the June kudocast.

The lead actor in a play category alone consists of Jude Law (“Hamlet”), Alfred Molina (“Red”), Liev Schreiber (“A View From the Bridge”), Christopher Walken (“A Behanding in Spokane”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”). Every single one is widely recognizable beyond the Main Stem for screen work.

Also in the mix are nommed thesps Catherine Zeta-Jones (“A Little Night Music”), Kelsey Grammer (“La Cage aux Folles”), Sean Hayes (“Promises, Promises”) and Scarlett Johansson (“View”). And don’t forget the big-name producers behind play nominee “Next Fall” (Elton John, David Furnish) and tuner contender “Fela!” (Jay-Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith).

Add it all up and producers of the Tony ceremony have a slew of famous faces to highlight in an effort to drum up viewers and raise the ceremony’s national profile. That’s proved difficult in the past, given the awards’ focus on live productions that can only be seen in a small chunk of midtown Manhattan.

The weeks leading up to the ceremony, broadcast live on CBS June 13, seem certain to bring some major jockeying for attention and votes.

Attention could prove beneficial for both “Fela!” and “La Cage,” the shows with 11 nods apiece leading the nominee list, announced Tuesday in Gotham by Jeff Daniels (“God of Carnage”) and Lea Michele (“Glee,” “Spring Awakening”). Nontraditional bio-musical “Fela!,” about Afrobeat musician and activist Fela Kuti, hasn’t yet parlayed the surge of positive reviews it received last fall into robust sales.

For “La Cage,” an imported London hit, the multiple noms could seem a validation of the decision to transfer the show to Gotham. The last New York revival of “La Cage,” the 1983 meet-the-gay-parents farce set in St. Tropez, opened in late 2004, and legiters doubted whether Broadway needed another one so soon — until the current staging earned glowing notices after it bowed last month.

A couple of the season’s highest-grossing musicals (at least so far) were left out of the top prize race in their respective categories. New tuner “The Addams Family,” which has raked in weekly sales of more than $1 million per week since it began perfs in March, wasn’t on the list for the tuner kudo, for which “Fela!” vies with “American Idiot,” “Memphis” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Revival “Promises, Promises,” which debuted to notably strong B.O. in March and last week topped $1 million for the first time, was not included in a musical revival category in which competish for “La Cage” includes “A Little Night Music” and two productions that closed earlier this year in the wake of disappointing sales, “Ragtime” and “Finian’s Rainbow.”

Although much industry talk was stirred by the fact that neither “Promises” (four noms total) nor “Addams” (two) made the cut in the top production categories in which they were eligible, it’s not clear how detrimental the development will prove. The musical revival award, for instance, has never been understood to make much of a difference at the box office, and “Addams,” which has attracted huge crowds even in the wake of some scathing reviews, has so far powered along on the strength of its recognizable title and its cast.

In that light, many in the industry expressed surprise that star Nathan Lane, highly respected along the Main Stem and thought by many to be giving a valiant perf in “Addams,” didn’t score an acting nom. (Co-topliner Bebe Neuwirth also was not nominated, but co-star Kevin Chamberlin got a nod for featured actor.)

Traditionally neither “Addams” nor “Promises” would be asked to perform a seg on the Tony telecast — a national TV showcase long considered to be the big marketing boon of a nomination. But recent ceremonies have toyed with that formula in an effort to turn the spotlight on Broadway as a whole, as opposed to just the season’s major nominees. Last year a handful of touring productions were featured.

Programming decisions for the kudocast have not been firmed up.

Also of note in the nominations list were the 10 nods notched by the strong-selling revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” tying the nom record for plays logged in 2007 for Tom Stoppard marathon “The Coast of Utopia.” The tally — with play revival and noms for cast members Washington, Viola Davis and Stephen McKinley Henderson, among others — includes a spot in the original score category for Branford Marsalis’ original music.

Those “Fences” songs, along with the music for multimedia corporate-misdeeds tale “Enron” (Adam Cork and Lucy Prebble) provided two entries drawn from play productions to flesh out the score lineup alongside musical contenders “Addams” (Andrew Lippa) and “Memphis” (Joe DiPietro and David Bryan). Prior to the noms announcement, some legiters wondered whether the category might be cut entirely because this season there were only two musicals with scores that were even eligible for a nomination.

That so many in the industry reacted to the Tony noms with dismay at perceived omissions — several didn’t expect “American Idiot” to walk away with only three noms, for instance — serves as an indicator that the 2009-10 season has been a divergent one during which no one show united biz enthusiasm.

Take the top tuner race. Both “Fela!” and “American Idiot” won praise for their unorthodox sensibilities and for bringing contempo sounds to the Main Stem. On the other hand, “Memphis” — a story about a pioneering DJ in the 1950s, and also the most traditional tuner of the bunch — and Sun Records-focused catalog musical “Million Dollar Quartet” would seem to have the widest appeal for road presenters, who make up a sizable portion of the Tony voting pool.

Considering the array of such divided opinions in multiple categories, it could lead to a ceremony that’s full of surprises.

And the nominees are:

PLAY
“In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play”
Author: Sarah Ruhl
Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, André Bishop, Bernard Gersten
“Next Fall”
Author: Geoffrey Nauffts
Producers: Elton John and David Furnish, Barbara Manocherian, Richard Willis, Tom Smedes, Carole L. Haber/Chase Mishkin, Ostar, Anthony Barrile, Michael Palitz, Bob Boyett, James Spry/Catherine Schreiber, Probo Productions, Roy Furman, Naked Angels
“Red”
Author: John Logan
Producers: Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie P. McClelland, Matthew Byam Shaw, Neal Street, Fox Theatricals, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Philip Hagemann/Murray Rosenthal, The Donmar Warehouse
“Time Stands Still”
Author: Donald Margulies
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove, Nelle Nugent/Wendy Federman

MUSICAL
“American Idiot”
Producers: Tom Hulce & Ira Pittelman, Ruth and Steven Hendel, Vivek J. Tiwary and Gary Kaplan, Aged in Wood and Burnt Umber, Scott Delman, Latitude Link, HOP Theatricals and Jeffrey Finn, Larry Welk, Bensinger Filerman and Moellenberg Taylor, Allan S. Gordon/Elan V. McAllister, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Awaken Entertainment, John Pinckard and John Domo
“Fela!”
Producers: Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Douglas G. Smith, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glaser, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Susan Dietz/Mort Swinsky, Knitting Factory Entertainment, Alicia Keys
“Memphis”
Producers: Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, Latitude Link, Jim and Susan Blair, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Land Line Productions, Apples and Oranges Productions, Dave Copley, Dancap Productions, Inc., Alex and Katya Lukianov, Tony Ponturo, 2 Guys Productions, Richard Winkler, Lauren Doll, Eric and Marsi Gardiner, Linda and Bill Potter, Broadway Across America, Jocko Productions, Patty Baker, Dan Frishwasser, Bob Bartner/Scott and Kaylin Union, Loraine Boyle/Chase Mishkin, Remmel T. Dickinson/”Memphis” Orpheum Group, ShadowCatcher Entertainment/Vijay and Sita Vashee
“Million Dollar Quartet”
Producers: Relevant Theatricals, John Cossette Productions, American Pop Anthology, Broadway Across America, James L. Nederlander

BOOK OF A MUSICAL
“Everyday Rapture”
Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott
“Fela!”
Jim Lewis & Bill T. Jones
“Memphis”
Joe DiPietro
“Million Dollar Quartet”
Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux

ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE
“The Addams Family”
Music & Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
“Enron”
Music: Adam Cork
Lyrics: Lucy Prebble
“Fences”
Music: Branford Marsalis
“Memphis”
Music: David Bryan
Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan

REVIVAL OF A PLAY
“Fences”
Producers: Carole Shorenstein Hays and Scott Rudin
“Lend Me a Tenor”
Producers: The Araca Group, Stuart Thompson, Carl Moellenberg, Rodney Rigby, Olympus Theatricals, Broadway Across America, The Shubert Organization, Wendy Federman/Jamie deRoy/Richard Winkler, Lisa Cartwright, Spring Sirkin, Scott and Brian Zeilinger
“The Royal Family”
Producers: Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Barry Grove
“A View from the Bridge”
Producers: Stuart Thompson, The Araca Group, Jeffrey Finn, Broadway Across America, Olympus Theatricals, Marisa Sechrest, The Weinstein Company, Jon B. Platt, Sonia Friedman Productions/Robert G. Bartner, Mort Swinsky/Joseph Deitch, Adam Zotovich/Ruth Hendel/Orin Wolf, Shelter Island Enterprises, The Shubert Organization

REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
“Finian’s Rainbow”
Producers: David Richenthal, Jack Viertel, Alan D. Marks, Michael Speyer, Bernard Abrams, David M. Milch, Stephen Moore, Debbie Bisno/Myla Lerner, Jujamcyn Theaters, Melly Garcia, Jamie deRoy, Jon Bierman, Richard Driehaus, Kevin Spirtas, Jay Binder, StageVentures 2009 Limited Partnership
“La Cage aux Folles”
Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, David Babani, Barry and Fran Weissler and Edwin W. Schloss, Bob Bartner/Norman Tulchin, Broadway Across America, Matthew Mitchell, Raise The Roof 4 Richard Winkler/Bensinger Taylor/Laudenslager Bergrère, Arelene Scanlan/John O’Boyle, Independent Presenters Network, Olympus Theatricals, Allen Spivak, Jerry Frankel/Bat-Barry Productions, Nederlander Presentations, Inc/Harvey Weinstein, Menier Chocolate Factory
“A Little Night Music”
Producers: Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, The Menier Chocolate Factory, Roger Berlind, David Babani, Sonia Friedman Productions, Andrew Fell, Daryl Roth/Jane Bergere, Harvey Weinstein/Raise the Roof 3, Beverly Bartner/Dancap Productions, Inc., Nica Burns/Max Weitzenhoffer, Eric Falkenstein/Anna Czekaj, Jerry Frankel/Ronald Frankel, James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer
“Ragtime”
Producers: Kevin McCollum, Roy Furman, Scott Delman, Roger Berlind, Max Cooper, Tom Kirdahy/Devin Elliott, Jeffrey A. Sine, Stephanie P. McClelland, Roy Miller, Lams Productions, Jana Robbins, Sharon Karmazin, Eric Falkenstein/Morris Berchard, RialtoGals Productions, Independent Presenters Network, Held-Haffner Productions, HRH Foundation, Emanuel Azenberg, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Michael Kaiser, Max Woodward

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Jude Law, “Hamlet”
Alfred Molina, “Red”
Liev Schreiber, “A View from the Bridge”
Christopher Walken, “A Behanding in Spokane”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Valerie Harper, “Looped”
Linda Lavin, “Collected Stories”
Laura Linney, “Time Stands Still”
Jan Maxwell, “The Royal Family”

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Kelsey Grammer, “La Cage aux Folles”
Sean Hayes, “Promises, Promises”
Douglas Hodge, “La Cage aux Folles”
Chad Kimball, “Memphis”
Sahr Ngaujah, “Fela!”

PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Kate Baldwin, “Finian’s Rainbow”
Montego Glover, “Memphis”
Christiane Noll, “Ragtime”
Sherie Rene Scott, “Everyday Rapture”
Catherine Zeta-Jones, “A Little Night Music”

PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
David Alan Grier, “Race”
Stephen McKinley Henderson, “Fences”
Jon Michael Hill, “Superior Donuts”
Stephen Kunken, “Enron”
Eddie “Red”mayne, “Red”

PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Maria Dizzia, “In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play”
Rosemary Harris, “The Royal Family”
Jessica Hecht, “A View from the Bridge”
Scarlett Johansson, “A View from the Bridge”
Jan Maxwell, “Lend Me a Tenor”

PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Kevin Chamberlin, “The Addams Family”
Robin De Jesús, “La Cage aux Folles”
Christopher Fitzgerald, “Finian’s Rainbow”
Levi Kreis, “Million Dollar Quartet”
Bobby Steggert, “Ragtime”

PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Barbara Cook, “Sondheim on Sondheim”
Katie Finneran, “Promises, Promises”
Angela Lansbury, “A Little Night Music”
Karine Plantadit, “Come Fly Away”
Lillias White, “Fela!”

SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
John Lee Beatty, “The Royal Family”
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, “Fences”
Christopher Oram, “Red”

SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Marina Draghici, “Fela!”
Christine Jones, “American Idiot”
Derek McLane, “Ragtime”
Tim Shortall, “La Cage aux Folles”

COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
Martin Pakledinaz, “Lend Me a Tenor”
Constanza Romero, “Fences”
David Zinn, “In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play”
Catherine Zuber, “The Royal Family”

COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Marina Draghici, “Fela!”
Santo Loquasto, “Ragtime”
Paul Tazewell, “Memphis”
Matthew Wright, “La Cage aux Folles”

LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Neil Austin, “Hamlet”
Neil Austin, “Red”
Mark Henderson, “Enron”
Brian MacDevitt, “Fences”

LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Kevin Adams, “American Idiot”
Donald Holder, “Ragtime”
Nick Richings, “La Cage aux Folles”
Robert Wierzel, “Fela!”

SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY
Acme Sound Partners, “Fences”
Adam Cork, “Enron”
Adam Cork, “Red”
Scott Lehrer, “A View from the Bridge”

SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Jonathan Deans, “La Cage aux Folles”
Robert Kaplowitz, “Fela!”
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, “A Little Night Music”
Dan Moses Schreier, “Sondheim on Sondheim”

DIRECTION OF A PLAY
Michael Grandage, “Red”
Sheryl Kaller, “Next Fall”
Kenny Leon, “Fences”
Gregory Mosher, “A View from the Bridge”

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
Christopher Ashley, “Memphis”
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, “Ragtime”
Terry Johnson, “La Cage aux Folles”
Bill T. Jones, “Fela!”

CHOREOGRAPHY
Rob Ashford, “Promises, Promises”
Bill T. Jones, “Fela!”
Lynne Page, “La Cage aux Folles”
Twyla Tharp, “Come Fly Away”

ORCHESTRATIONS
Jason Carr, “La Cage aux Folles”
Aaron Johnson, “Fela!”
Jonathan Tunick, “Promises, Promises”
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, “Memphis”

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