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Tony Awards Eligibility: Nathan Lane Deemed Lead Actor in ‘It’s Only a Play’

The Tony Awards Administration Committee has deemed Nathan Lane the lead actor in the starry cast of megaselling Broadway comedy “It’s Only a Play,” with the formidable co-stars of the production’s ensemble — including Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, Rupert Grint, Stockard Channing and F. Murray Abraham — classified as featured performers.

That’s one of a handful of rulings to come out of this season’s first meeting of the Tony admin committee, which meets four times per season to determine eligibility questions that deviate from the Tony standard, which slots all above-the-title actors as leads and classifies below-the-title performers as featured.

Although usually shows appearing for the first time on Broadway are considered new works, that regulation is sometimes overturned when a play has attained a significant cultural profile without a Broadway run. The admin committee made that call with “It’s Only a Play,” the 30-year-old Terrence McNally comedy that ran Off Broadway in the ’80s; it’ll be eligible for a nomination for play revival. Ditto “This Is Our Youth,” Kenneth Lonergan’s well-known title that, although it hasn’t appeared on the Main Stem prior to its current revival, became a legit-world fave thanks to its 1996 Off Broadway premiere.

Tavi Gevinson, one of the three actors in the “Youth” cast, was deemed a featured actress, with co-stars Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin eligible for the lead actor category. For the current revival of “You Can’t Take It With You,” the entire ensemble cast, including Rose Byrne and James Earl Jones, are featured players, while Blythe Danner will be considered a lead for “The Country House.”

In the musical races, Tony Yazbeck made the cut for lead actor in “On the Town”; the two thesps who play fellow sailors in the New York-set musical, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Clyde Alves, will be considered featured actors. Saul Williams of “Holler If You Hear Me” also was deemed a lead actor.

Lane will appear in “It’s Only a Play” until Jan. 4, when he’ll depart the extended run of the play in order to topline “The Iceman Cometh” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Martin Short will take over his role.

The Tony admin committee will meet three more times over the course of the season ahead of the announcement of the 2015 Tony nominations, set for April 28. The ceremony will broadcast live June 7 from Radio City Music Hall.

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