‘Once’ leads Tony Award nominations with 11 nods

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NEW YORK (AP) — There was something for virtually everyone to smile about on Broadway on Tuesday after 30 of 37 shows this season got at least one Tony Award nomination. The folks at “Once” had the most reason to celebrate later at their working bar on stage.

The musical based on the low-budget 2006 film about an unlikely romance between a Czech flower seller and an Irish street musician in Dublin earned a leading 11 nominations, including nods for best musical, for both its lead actors, its book, lighting, sound, choreography and its set, which offers the audience real drinks before the show in a replica pub.

“‘Once’ constantly surprises me. I think it’s the power of the music and the storytelling that people connect with,” said John Tiffany, who was nominated for best director of a musical.

Two other big winners were Disney and the Gershwin estate: Two musicals using George and Ira Gershwin songs — “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” — each got 10 nominations.

Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre Co., currently celebrating its 25th anniversary season, won the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

“I am so honored to have the work of the Shakespeare Theatre Company recognized in this way,” said the company’s artistic director, Michael Kahn. “This is a very touching tribute to have the work of all of the artists and staff who have been a part of our 25-year history acknowledged.”

Mr. Kahn, who has led the company since 1986, will accept the award on its behalf during the Tony Awards ceremony in New York on June 10.

And “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a play about the origins of Peter Pan co-produced by Disney Theatrical Productions earned nine nominations, while its energetic song-and-dance musical “Newsies” got eight nods.

Later this summer, “Once,” ”Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “Newsies” will compete for the title of best new musical with a surprise entry — “Leap of Faith,” which was ravaged by critics. “Ghost the Musical,” an import from London with songs by mega producers Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, failed to get nominated in the best musical category.

The fall revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” got eight nominations, setting up a face-off in the best revival category with “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which Sondheim had criticized.

The nominations, picked by 22 theatre professionals, were announced at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday by Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons. The actual awards will be broadcast on CBS from the Beacon Theatre on June 10. Neil Patrick Harris, the star of “How I Met Your Mother,” will be the host.

Broadway’s most expensive show, the $75 million “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” got only two nominations, for best scenic design and costume. The show, a former punch-line, is now a top-earning hit and a spokesman shrugged off the snub.

“Even without a nomination for best musical, we can assure you that the audiences this week will love the show just as much as they did last week,” Rick Miramontez said.

The best new play category is very strong and includes “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris, “Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz, “Peter and the Starcatcher” by Rick Elice, and David Ives’ “Venus in Fur.”

“It certainly is a hair-raising list of plays for this season for anybody who is in contention. I had so much fun at lots of these plays and so my hair was raised around 8:33 this morning and only settled down in last few minutes,” joked Ives.

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