- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009


NEW YORK — “Billy Elliot,” the season’s biggest musical hit, dominated the 2009 Tony Award nominations Tuesday, picking up 15, more than any other show.

Based on the popular British movie, the show about a coal miner’s son who dreams of becoming a dancer, will compete for best musical against “Next to Normal,” “Rock of Ages” and “Shrek The Musical.”

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Elton John, nominated for the show’s original score, told CBS’s “Early Show. “It’s made an incredible impact on my life.”

Best-play nominations went to “God of Carnage,” “Dividing the Estate,” “reasons to be pretty” and “33 Variations.”

“Next to Normal,” a heartfelt musical about a woman battling mental illness, received 11 nominations, while “Shrek” and the revival of “Hair” tied with eight each. In several of the acting categories, performers from the same show will compete against each other.

For best-actor play, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels — stars of Yasmina Reza’s scathing comedy of manners “God of Carnag” — will face each other. So will their co-stars, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, in the actress-play category.

Other actor-play nominees were Raul Esparza, “Speed-the-Plow”; Geoffrey Rush, “Exit the King”; and Thomas Sadoski, “reasons to be pretty.”

The two royal ladies of “Mary Stuart” — Janet McTeer as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth I — also will battle for the actress nod. The last slot in the category was filled by Jane Fonda, who portrays a dying musicologist in “33 Variations.”

In one of the more unusual nominations, the three boys who share the title role in “Billy Elliot” — David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish — were named together for the best actor-musical prize.

Their competition: Gavin Creel, “Hair”; Brian d’Arcy James, “Shrek The Musical”; Constantine Maroulis, “Rock of Ages”; and J. Robert Spencer, “Next to Normal.”

The 15 nominations received by “Billy Elliot” were the most received by a production since “The Producers” was honored with the same number in 2001. Its composer, Elton John (along with lyricist Lee Hall) was nominated. Besides best-musical, score and lead actor, “Billy Elliot” received nominations for book, featured-actor (two), featured-actress (two), scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, direction, choreography and orchestrations.

Dolly Parton was nominated for her score of “9 to 5,” but the show was passed over for a coveted best musical nod.

In this play-heavy season, a lot of well known actors were snubbed including Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Radcliffe, Carla Gugino, Brian Dennehy, Frank Langella and John Lithgow.

Joesefina Scaglione, Maria in the revival of “West Side Story,” picked up an actress-musical nomination. She will compete against Stockard Channing, “Pal Joey”; Sutton Foster, “Shrek”; Allison Janney, “9 to 5: The Musical”; and Alice Ripley, “Next to Normal.”

Winners will be announced June 7 at Radio City Music Hall.

The Signature Theatre, in Arlington, Va., received the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 gift from Visa, USA.



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