'Hands on Hardbody' Goes the Distance

Off Broadway musical 'Giant' ties Rialto's 'Hardbody' with nine nominations

Score one for the underdog: Short-lived Broadway musical “Hands on a Hardbody” led the Broadway pack of nominations for the Drama Desk Awards, with the tuner racking up nine nods and tying with Off Broadway outing “Giant.”

Two more Rialto entries, “Matilda” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” notched seven noms each, while “A Christmas Story,” “Chaplin” and “Pippin” snagged six apiece.

The nominations for the 58th Drama Desks add one final voice to the legit awards-season rabble before the main event, the Tony Awards — nominations for which will be announced Tuesday.

Like the other theater laurels handed out at this time of year, the Drama Desks are an imperfect bellwether of the Tony noms, in part because the kudos consider Broadway and Off Broadway titles in the same categories (whereas the Tonys only cover Rialto fare). Still, the noms and subsequent awards can nonetheless offer insight into the shows rallying support in the industry.

“Hardbody” earned mixed reviews and tanked at the box office, but the tuner — about down-on-their-luck Texans competing for a new truck — did have fans in the press and beyond.  “Hardbody” joins “Christmas Story” and critics’ fave “Matilda” as the Main Stem titles in the running for the new musical kudo, along with Off Broadway offerings “Giant,” “Here Lies Love,” “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” and “The Other Josh Cohen.”

The new play race was similarly dominated by Off Broadway fare, with the Rialto’s “The Assembled Parties” and “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (which itself began life Off Broadway) competing with Off Broadway’s “The Flick,” “Finks,” “Belleville,” “Falling” and “Sorry.”

Along with the roster of competitive awards, the Drama Desk will also hand out special kudos recognizing the work of the New York Musical Theater Festival, puppet theater Wakka Wakka, thesp Jayne Houdyshell, playwright Samuel D. Hunter and lighting designer Maruti Evans. Ensemble acting award will be given to the cast of the Off Broadway revival of “Working.”

Made up of the legit critics, writers and scholars, the Drama Desk has been handing out honors since 1955. Trophies for the 2012-13 season will be doled out at a kudofest set for May 19 at Manhattan’s Town Hall in a ceremony exec produced by Gretchen Shugart and produced by Joey Parnes Prods.

Click here for the full list of nominees.

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