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‘History’ is in with the outer crix

'Jersey' takes top tuner prize

NEW YORK — “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “The History Boys” led the 2005-06 Outer Critics Circle awards, but the top tuner prize went to “Jersey Boys.”

“Drowsy,” the meta-tuner underdog about a fictional frothy musical from the 1920s, won for score (composer-lyricists Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison), featured actress in a musical (Beth Leavel), set (David Gallo) and costumes (Gregg Barnes).

“Jersey Boys,” the biotuner about the life and music of the Four Seasons, snagged three trophies, including top tuner and actor in a musical for John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli. Howell Binkley won for lighting.

Split between the two shows won’t much help Tony prognosticators, many of whom expect the frontrunners for major tuner Tonys to be “Jersey” and “Drowsy.”

“History” drew laurels for play, director of a play (Nicholas Hytner), featured actor in a play (Richard Griffiths, who will be considered a lead by the Tony nominators) and featured actress (Frances de la Tour).

In the revival categories, “Awake and Sing!” and “Sweeney Todd” got the gold for play and musical, respectively. “Sweeney” helmer John Doyle won for direction of a musical.

Honors for Off Broadway play went to “Stuff Happens,” David Hare’s recounting of the march to war in Iraq, and Off Broadway musical to “Grey Gardens,” based on the docu film about an eccentric mother-daughter pair living in squalor in East Hampton. “Grey Gardens” star Christine Ebersole drew the actress in a musical nod.

Gabriel Byrne took actor in play for the Rialto revival of “A Touch of the Poet,” while Lois Smith drew actress for the Off Broadway staging of “A Trip to Bountiful.” Antony Sher got the nod for solo performance for “Primo.”

Rounding out the acting categories was Jim Dale, who won for featured actor in a musical for “The Threepenny Opera.”

John Gassner Award, given for an American play preferably by new playwright(s), went to Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, who co-wrote and performed “In the Continuum.” Show, about AIDS among African and African-American women, had an extended run Off Broadway and will tour Africa and the U.S.

The Outer Critics Circle is made up of more than 90 journalists who cover New York theater for non-Gotham media outlets. Awards ceremony is set for May 25 at Sardi’s.

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