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‘Fun Home,’ ‘American in Paris’ Lead 2015 Tony Nominations

The surprise of the season, “An American in Paris,” and the sure thing, “Fun Home,” have come out neck and neck in the race for the 2015 Tony Awards, scoring an even dozen nominations apiece. New musical comedy “Something Rotten!” nabbed ten, while revival “The King and I” scored nine.

Among plays, the top-nominated title was the two-part British history marathon “Wolf Hall,” with eight nominations. “Skylight,” the revival of the David Hare play starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, landed seven, while “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which has turned into a strong seller since it opened in the fall, took six. All three are imports from the U.K.; the homegrown, foul-mouthed puppet comedy “Hand to God” took five nods.

“American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” “Rotten!” and “The Visit,” the Kander and Ebb musical starring Chita Rivera, will vie this year for the top Tony Award for new musical — the trophy generally believed to have the strongest influence at Broadway box office. In the play race, “Hand to God” and Pulitzer winner “Disgraced” compete with “Curious Incident” and “Wolf Hall.”

Notable actors on the nomination list include Bradley Cooper (“The Elelphant Man”), Bill Nighy (“Skylight”), Ken Watanabe (“The King and I”) and, in a powerhouse race for leading actress in a play, Helen Mirren (“The Audience”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Heidi Chronicles”), Carey Mulligan (“Skylight”) and Ruth Wilson (“Constellations”), alongside “Hand to God” star Geneva Carr.

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“American in Paris,” a dance-centric stage take on the 1951 MGM movie, landed on Broadway this spring without much buzz following a well-received but distant tryout run in Paris. It went on to score glowing reviews and has seen box office start to snowball, last week pulling in more than $1.2 million. The show, scored with Gershwin songs, notched nominations for book (Craig Lucas), direction and choreography (both for Christopher Wheeldon) as well as four acting nods (for leads Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope and featured actors Max Von Essen and Brandon Uranowitz), among others.

“Fun Home,” on the other hand, arrived carrying all the hype — and the expectations — stirred by its award-winning, much-lauded premiere Off Broadway last season. The critics loved it again this time around, and while the modestly scaled musical won’t ever earn as much as one of Broadway’s big razzle-dazzlers, it seems sure to benefit from the coming month of awards attention.

The show’s nominations haul includes book (Lisa Kron), score (Jeanine Tesori and Kron) and direction (Sam Gold). Lead performers Beth Malone and Michael Cerveris nabbed acting nods, and the show dominates the featured actress in a musical category, with three performers from the production — Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs — taking up the majority of the five slots, alongside Victoria Clark (“Gigi”) and Ruthie Ann Miles (“King and I”).

Among the more competitive acting races this year is lead actress in a musical, for which a trio of Broadway favorites — Kristin Chenoweth (“On the 20th Century”), Kelli O’Hara (“The King and I”) and Rivera (“The Visit”) — square off in a race with Cope (“American in Paris”) and Malone (“Fun Home”). O’Hara, giving a lauded performance in “King and I,” has never won following a string of nominations, but observers can’t count out the strong work from Chenoweth and Rivera, both making notable and well-received Broadway returns.

In the design categories, multiple creatives earned more than one nomination each, highlighting how small the pool of Broadway designers is. Bob Crowley took a whopping four nominations, one each for set of a play (“Skylight”), costumes of a play (“The Audience”), costumes of a musical (“American in Paris”) and set of a musical (“American in Paris,” in a nom shared with 59 Prods.). Lighting designer Paule Constable (“Curious Incident” and, with David Plater, “Wolf Hall”), set and costume designer Christopher Oram (“Wolf Hall”), David Rockwell (sets for “On the 20th Century” and “You Can’t Take It With You”), Natasha Katz (lights for “Skylight” and “American in Paris”), David Zinn (sets for “Fun Home” and “Airline Highway”) and Japhy Weideman (lights for “The Visit” and “Airline Highway”) all took two apiece.

The Tony Awards ceremony, set to broadcast live on CBS June 7, is the highest-profile marketing spotlight Broadway gets annually. Nominated musicals will all get a chance to show their wares to a national audience in performance segments during the show; other productions from this season and from prior seasons will likely be highlighted as well, as has been the trend in recent years.

The hosts for this year’s awards ceremony, Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, were also named in addition to the 2015 nominees. Both are Broadway babies — Cumming just wrapped his run in “Cabaret” and Chenoweth currently appears in “20th Century” — but neither has the Hollywood celebrity quotient of previous hosts such as Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris.

Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker announced the nominations Tuesday morning in midtown Manhattan.

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