- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009


“Billy Elliot,” the tale of a British coal miner’s son who dreams of becoming a dancer, has the potential of winning a record number of 2009 Tony Awards, honoring the best of a star-driven Broadway season.

Its 15 nominations - which on Tuesday tied the number received by “The Producers” in 2001 - included one of the more unusual nods. 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.

Other major multiple Tony nominees were “Next to Normal” with 11, and “Shrek The Musical” and the revival of “Hair,” both tied with eight.

Competing against “Billy Elliot” for the best-musical prize are “Next to Normal,” a heartfelt musical about a woman battling mental illness; “Shrek The Musical,” based on the popular DreamWorks animated film; and “Rock of Ages,” a cheeky homage to the pop music (and long hair) of the 1980s.

Best play nods went to Yasmina Reza’s savage comedy of manners, “God of Carnage”; “Dividing the Estate,” Horton Foote’s gentle comedy about a Texas family’s squabbles over a dwindling inheritance; Moises Kaufman’s “33 Variations,” one woman’s pursuit of a musical mystery; and “Reasons to be Pretty,” Neil LaBute’s look at how relationships are undermined by the meaning of words.

In several of the acting categories, performers from the same show will compete against each other.

But then, the entire cast of “God of Carnage” was nominated. For best-actor play, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels will face each other. So will their two co-stars in Miss Reza’s scathing comedy of manners - Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis - in the actress-play category.

Other actor-play nominees were Raul Esparza, a predatory Hollywood producer in “Speed-the-Plow”; Geoffrey Rush, a dying monarch in “Exit the King”; and Thomas Sadoski, an inarticulate slacker in “Reasons to be Pretty.”

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

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

Winners will be announced June 7 during a three-hour ceremony televised by CBS from Radio City Music Hall.



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