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“She has all of the universe before her,” he said. “I mean, she’s already galaxy high at this moment. She seems to be a constellation all her own. So I have no doubt that she’s going to lighten up our skies for a very long time.”

In the musical revival category, “Follies” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” will compete against two Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice works: “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita.”

“Once,” with songs by Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, was originally a low-budget movie made for about $150,000. The film earned $20 million, thanks in part to an original score that included the sublime, 2007 Oscar-winning song, “Falling Slowly.” The musical is a study in how to beautifully adapt a movie to the stage.

“Once” earned its stars, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, best actor nominations. It also earned nods for best scenic design, best book of a musical and Elizabeth A. Davis got a nomination for an actress in a featured role.

The best leading actor in a play Tony will pit James Corden from the British import “One Man, Two Guvnors,” Philip Seymour Hoffman from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” James Earl Jones from “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man,” Frank Langella from “Man and Boy” and John Lithgow of “The Columnist.”

“I expect to go out with the gang tonight, which I don’t do very often because this play is so damned exhausting,” Lithgow said, laughing. “And I intend to buy all the drinks. That’s pretty unusual, too. I am a Scotsman, after all.”

Joe DiPietro earned a Tony nomination for writing the book to “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” which stars Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, who also got a nomination as a leading actress in a musical. The frothy musical smartly integrates classic Gershwin songs such as “Sweet and Lowdown,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “S’Wonderful,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “They All Laughed” and “Fascinating Rhythm.”

The musical is the first since DiPietro won two Tonys for writing the still-running “Memphis,” but he’s not jaded.

“The Tonys are always a big deal,” he said. “I wrote for a long time and no one seemed to care and then I suddenly started getting produced. When I won my Tonys, it was childhood dream time coming true.”

“Other Desert Cities,” a play by Baitz that moved to Broadway after critical acclaim at Lincoln Center Theater, earned five nominations, including best play.

“My psychology is such that I can’t jump up and down. I suppose that makes me Jewish and of the theater,” Baitz joked after the announcement.

Baitz’s play, about a dysfunctional, politically divided family wrestling with a deep secret in their past, also earned Stockard Channing and Judith Light acting nominations.

“It feels extraordinary. I feel thrilled, I feel blessed, I feel honored,” said Light, the former “Who’s the Boss?” star who last year was nominated for her performance in “Lombardi.” “I was away from the theater for a long time. When I came back, I came back slowly and I had to really work my way back in and not expect anything.”

Light will compete in the featured role category against Linda Emond, who won raves for her role in “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.” Emond, who managed to keep her yoga class appointment despite the fuss Tuesday, was gracious, pleased that her show produced nominations for co-stars Andrew Garfield and Hoffman, as well as director Mike Nichols.

“I am only more aware on a day like this that this is not something I do alone. This is not something that feels like I, in particular, am being noted for,” she said. “I go out on that stage and there are many people backstage and during the show who help me through the play.”

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