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Tony Award nominations set without clear favorite

- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - God might not be eligible for a Tony Award nomination on Tuesday, but stories about him are jostling for attention on Broadway. And even Spider-Man might be redeemed.

Nominations would be heavenly for "Jesus Christ Superstar," `'Godspell" or "Leap of Faith," joining last year's "Sister Act" and "The Book of Mormon" to add to the unusual cluster of religious-themed shows around Times Square. (Nuns also appeared in one scene of "Ghost the Musical," for the record.)

Unlike last year when "The Book of Mormon" was a heavy favorite, this season has no obvious front-runner. And plays got a bit more attention than musicals, usually Broadway's bread-and-butter.

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," the former punch-line and now top-earning hit, might contend, even though it's been around for a long time. The reason is simple: It began previews in November 2010 and endured six delays in opening night and a record-breaking preview period before finally officially opening June 14, 2011 _ missing the last Tony Awards eligibility cut off, meaning it can be nominated this year.

Julie Taymor, the co-book writer and director, is eligible for a directing nod, although she has sued her former employers over copyright issues. What happens if she and her one-time collaborators, U2's Bono and The Edge, all earn nods might make for an awkward award season.

The comic book show will have competition from other new musicals, including "Once," `'Newsies," `'Ghost the Musical" and "Leap of Faith" _ all based on movies. Among musical revivals, the strongest contenders are "Jesus Christ Superstar," `'Follies," `'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" and "Evita."

The new play category is stuffed, with contenders including Bruce Norris' "Clybourne Park," Nicky Silver's "The Lyons," David Henry Hwang's "Chinglish," Jon Robin Baitz's "Other Desert Cities," Theresa Rebeck's "Seminar," David Auburn's "The Columnist," Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop" and David Ives' "Venus in Fur."

The top possibilities for play revival include Terrence McNally's "Master Class," Terence Rattigan's "Man and Boy," Noel Coward's "Private Lives," Margaret Edson's "Wit," a revival of "Gore Vidal's The Best Man," Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" and Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," the crowd and critical favorite.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast CBS in a live three-hour ceremony from the Beacon Theatre on June 10. Neil Patrick Harris, the star of "How I Met Your Mother," will be the host for the third time. Only Broadway shows that opened since last June are eligible.

Leading actress in a play nominees might include Stockard Channing ("Other Desert Cities"), Tyne Daly ("Master Class"), Tracie Bennett ("End of the Rainbow"), Angela Bassett ("The Mountaintop"), Nina Arianda ("Venus in Fur"), Rosemary Harris ("The Road to Mecca"), Linda Lavin ("The Lyons") and Cynthia Nixon ("Wit").

Top actresses in a musical may include Patti LuPone ("An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin"), Audra McDonald ("The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess"), Bernadette Peters ("Follies"), Jan Maxwell ("Follies"), Cristin Milioti ("Once") and Elena Roger ("Evita").

On the male side, best actor in a play contenders include Frank Langella ("Man and Boy"), John Lithgow ("The Columnist"), James Corden ("One Man, Two Guvnors"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Death of a Salesman"), Samuel L. Jackson ("The Mountaintop"), Alan Rickman ("Seminar"), Blair Underwood ("A Streetcar Named Desire"), Hunter Parrish ("Godspell") and Hugh Dancy ("Venus in Fur").

Top best actor in a musical nominees include Matthew Broderick ("Nice Work If You Can Get It"), Hugh Jackman ("Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway"), Mandy Patinkin ("An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin"), Raul Esparza ("Leap of Faith"), Steve Kazee ("Once"), Norm Lewis ("The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess") and Jeremy Jordan ("Newsies" and "Bonnie and Clyde")

The Tony Awards Administration Committee revealed Monday that actress Bernadette Peters would be the recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award, which honors someone from the theater community who has helped a charity. Peters founded Broadway Barks! along with Mary Tyler Moore to promote the adoption of shelter animals.

The committee will also present a Special Tony Award to Jackman, citing "his contributions to the Broadway community, both as a performer and humanitarian; his tireless dedication to charitable works of many types; and his personal generosity of spirit." Actors' Equity Association, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in June, will get a Special Tony, too.

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Online: http://www.TonyAwards.com

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