- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

NEW YORK - “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a madcap medieval musical based loosely on the zany British troupe’s film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” led the field yesterday with 14 Tony nominations, including best musical and two bids for best performance by a leading actor in a musical: Tim Curry (King Arthur) and Hank Azaria (Lancelot).

The musicals “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” about a couple of scam artists working the French Riviera, and “The Light in the Piazza,” the lushly romantic tale of love at first sight and its ramifications, each received 11 nods.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Doubt,” John Patrick Shanley’s drama of uncertainty set against the backdrop of a Catholic school in the Bronx, received eight nominations.

Kathleen Turner picked up a best-actress nomination for her role as a boozy wife in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Also nominated were Laura Linney as a spurned woman in “Sight Unseen”; Mary-Louise Parker for her portrayal of a distraught housewife in “Reckless”; Cherry Jones, who played a dour, authoritarian nun in “Doubt”; and Phylicia Rashad, as an ancient, mystical woman in “Gem of the Ocean.”

The best-actor nominees are: Billy Crudup, a jailed writer in “The Pillowman”; Philip Bosco for a disbelieving juror in “Twelve Angry Men”; James Earl Jones for a cantankerous father in “On Golden Pond”; Bill Irwin, Miss Turner’s boozy, battling husband in “Virginia Woolf”; and Brian F. O’Byrne, an accused priest in “Doubt.”

The nominees in the best-play category besides “Doubt” are “Democracy,” “Gem of the Ocean” and “The Pillowman.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”— the off-Broadway sleeper hit that made it to the Great White Way — vies with “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “The Light in the Piazza” as best musical.

Besides Mr. Curry and Mr. Azaria, other leading-actor-in-a-musical nominees include Gary Beach for “La Cage aux Folles” and Norbert Leo Butz and John Lithgow for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Nominated for leading actress in a musical are Christina Applegate, “Sweet Charity”; Victoria Clark, “The Light in the Piazza”; Erin Dilly, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”; Sutton Foster, “Little Women”; and Sherie Rene Scott, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

In the same year he was up for an Academy Award (for his supporting role in “The Aviator”), Alan Alda got a Tony nod as a featured actor in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Miss Applegate — who still may be best-known as a trampy teenager on the old sitcom “Married… With Children” — received a nomination as the unlucky-in-love dance-hall hostess in “Sweet Charity.” She broke her right foot in March during the show’s Chicago tryout, and the Broadway production was canceled after its next stop, in Boston, but Miss Applegate’s determination resurrected it.

Edward Albee, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who challenged theatrical convention in such masterworks as “Virginia Woolf,” “A Delicate Balance” and “Seascape,” was picked to receive a special Tony for lifetime achievement.

The category for best revival of a play pits “Virginia Woolf” against David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “On Golden Pond” and “Twelve Angry Men.” In the category of best revival of a musical, “La Cage aux Folles” will compete with “Pacific Overtures” and “Sweet Charity.”

Four special theater events were nominated for Tonys: “Laugh Whore,” Mario Cantone’s (“Sex and the City”) bawdy one-man show; “700 Sundays,” Billy Crystal’s autobiographical evening; “Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show,” Whoopi Goldberg’s revival of her 1984 one-woman show; and Australian Barry Humphries’ drag extravaganza, “Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance!”

The Theatre de la Jeune Lune of Minneapolis will be given the 2005 Regional Theatre Tony Award for artistic achievement.

Actor Hugh Jackman, a winner last year for best leading actor in a musical (“The Boy From Oz”), will host the awards ceremony June 5 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. It will be broadcast live on CBS. The full list of nominees is available on the Web at www.tonyawards.com.

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