'Elf' is earliest opener in new-tuner category

The 2011 legit kudos season officially kicked off with the announcement of noms for the 77th annual Drama League Awards, which sees categories encompass as many as a dozen nominees and the single acting award chosen from a roster of 63 thesps — this year including Jim Belushi, Ben Stiller, Frances McDormand, Chris Rock and Robin Williams.

The seven-nom new-tuner lineup is notably slanted toward Broadway shows that opened in the spring: Nominees include “The Book of Mormon,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Priscilla Queen of Desert,” “Sister Act” and “The People in the Picture.” The other two were the holiday-timed “Elf” and “In Transit,” a fall offering from Off Broadway’s Primary Stages.

Drama League noms and awards rarely rep a solid bellwether for Tony noms given the League’s unorthodox (and crowded) nominee structure — including the fact that Rialto and Off Broadway shows are lumped together.

Still, as an initial sign of award interest in the season’s new musicals, the League’s tally raises questions about whether fall tuners, including “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” will find better luck with Tonys.

The 12 new-play contenders stretch from Broadway shows — “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Good People,” “Jerusalem,” “The Motherfucker With the Hat,” “War Horse” — to more experimental Off Broadway offerings, including Elevator Repair Service’s marathon “Gatz” and Punchdrunk’s dance-theater installation “Sleep No More.”

Only three shows make up the tuner-revival category, serving as an indicator of the season’s overall slowdown in revival fare, with the two Main Stem offerings, “Anything Goes” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” the only possible contenders for Tony noms in the same category.

Thesping noms, meanwhile, run the gamut, with everyone from Paul Reubens (“The Pee-wee Herman Show”) to Daniel Radcliffe (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) on the list.

Awards are set to be handed out at the Drama League’s annual luncheon ceremony, this year set for May 20.

Distinguished Production of a Play (12)
“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” | Richard Rodgers Theatre
“The Diary of a Madman” | Brooklyn Academy of Music
“The Dream of the Burning Boy” | Roundabout Theatre Company
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” | Second Stage Theatre
“Gatz” | Elevator Repair Service/The Public Theater
“Good People” | Manhattan Theatre Club
“Jerusalem” | Music Box Theatre
“Kin” | Playwrights Horizons
“The Motherf**ker with the Hat” | Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
“Other Desert Cities” | Lincoln Center Theatre
“Sleep No More” | Punchdrunk/The McKittrick Hotel
“War Horse” | Lincoln Center Theatre

Distinguished Production of a Musical (7)
“The Book of Mormon” | Eugene O’Neill Theatre
“Catch Me If You Can” | Neil Simon Theatre
“Elf” | Al Hirschfeld Theatre
“In Transit” | Primary Stages
“The People in the Picture” | Roundabout Theatre Company
“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” | Palace Theatre
“Sister Act” | Broadway Theatre

Distinguished Revival of a Play (10)
“Angels in America” | Signature Theatre Company
“Arcadia” | Ethel Barrymore Theatre
“Born Yesterday” | Cort Theatre
“The Collection and a Kind of Alaska” | Atlantic Theatre Company
“The House of Blue Leaves” | Walter Kerr Theatre
“The Importance of Being Earnest” | Roundabout Theatre Company
“La Bête” | Music Box Theatre
“The Little Foxes” | New York Theatre Workshop
“The Merchant of Venice” | The Public Theater/Broadhurst Theatre
“The Normal Heart” | John Golden Theatre

Distinguished Revival of a Musical (3)
“Anything Goes” | Roundabout Theatre Company
“Hello Again” | The Transport Group
“How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” | Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Nominees for The Distinguished Performance Award
Nina Arianda, “Born Yesterday”
Vanessa Aspillaga, “underneathmybed”
Daniel Beaty, “Through The Night”
Brian Bedford, “The Importance of Being Earnest”
Jim Belushi, “Born Yesterday”
Laura Benanti, “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”
Reed Birney, “The Dream of the Burning Boy”
Desmin Borges, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
Christian Borle, “Angels in America and Peter and the Starcatcher”
André Braugher, “The Whipping Man”
Charles Busch, “The Divine Sister”
Bill Camp, “Notes From Underground”
Bobby Cannavale, “The Motherf**ker With The Hat”
Victoria Clark, “Sister Act”
Billy Crudup, “Arcadia and The Metal Children”
Colin Donnell, “Anything Goes”
Lisa Emery, “The Collection/A Kind of Alaska”
* Ensemble, “Sleep No More”
* Ensemble, “Hello Again”
Raúl Esparza, “Arcadia”
Edie Falco, “The House of Blue Leaves and This Wide Night”
Halley Feiffer, “Tigers Be Still”
Sutton Foster, “Anything Goes”
Josh Gad, “The Book of Mormon”
Laura Heisler, “Kin”
John Benjamin Hickey, “The Normal Heart”
Marin Ireland, “In the Wake and Three Sisters”
John Larroquette, “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
Dan Lauria, “Lombardi”
John Leguizamo, “Ghetto Klown”
Judith Light, “Lombardi”
Joe Mantello, “The Normal Heart”
Elizabeth Marvel, “The Little Foxes and Other Desert Cities”
Frances McDormand, “Good People”
Laurie Metcalf, “The Other Place”
Patina Miller, “Sister Act”
Arian Moayed, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”
Donna Murphy, “The People in the Picture”
Seth Numrich, “War Horse”
Al Pacino, “The Merchant of Venice”
Estelle Parsons, “Good People”
Alison Pill, “This Wide Night”
Lily Rabe, “The Merchant of Venice”
Daniel Radcliffe, “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
Andrew Rannells, “The Book of Mormon “
Martin Rayner, “Freud’s Last Session”
Vanessa Redgrave, “Driving Miss Daisy”
Paul Reubens, “The Pee-Wee Herman Show”
Chris Rock, “The Motherf**ker With The Hat”
Mark Rylance, “Jerusalem and La Bête”
Michael Shannon, “Mistakes Were Made”
Fiona Shaw, “John Gabriel Borkman”
Tony Sheldon, “Priscilla, “Queen of the Desert”
Scott Shepherd, “Gatz”
Christopher Sieber, “The Kid”
Alexandra Socha, “The Dream of the Burning Boy”
Paul Sparks, “Dusk Rings a Bell”
Ben Stiller, “The House of Blue Leaves”
Will Swenson, “Priscilla, “Queen of the Desert”
Kathleen Turner, “High”
Aaron Tveit, “Catch Me If You Can”
Robin Williams, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”
Tom Wopat, “Catch Me If You Can”

* The ensemble casts of “Sleep No More” and “Hello Again” will be honored collectively on the dais. The producers of each show may appoint one or two cast members to appear on the dais on behalf of the show’s entire ensemble.”

Past Distinguished Performance Honorees to be recognized for their work this season
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities

Cherry Jones, Mrs. Warren’s Profession
James Earl Jones, Driving Miss Daisy
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Geoffrey Rush, The Diary of a Madman

Special Recognitions
Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award: Whoopi Goldberg
Distinguished Acheivement in Musical Theatre Award: Liza Minelli
Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing: Susan Stroman

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