NEW YORK — “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 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.
“This (’Billy Elliot’) is the culmination of so many years work, and it’s a fantastic day for everyone involved,” said the show’s elated superstar composer, Elton John. He was nominated for best score along with lyricist Lee Hall.
Besides best-musical, score and lead actor, “Billy Elliot” received nominations for book, featured actor (two), featured actress (two), direction, scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, choreography and orchestrations.
The show, a success in London before being opening last November in New York, is based on the 2000 film, directed by Stephen Daldry, the Tony-nominated director of the stage version.
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.
The large number of plays this season made some categories very competitive, particularly revivals. The four play revivals snagging spots were Alan Ayckbourn’s comic trilogy “The Norman Conquests,” the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Waiting for Godot,” the historical drama “Mary Stuart” and August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” produced by Lincoln Center Theater.
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. Director Matthew Warchus went one better: He will compete against himself after snagging nominations for directing “God of Carnage” as well as “The Norman Conquests.”
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 Yasmina Reza’s scathing comedy of manners — Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis — in the actress-play category.
More Entertainment stories
Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...
- Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
- See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
- Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
- 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom
- Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts
“It really is four leading characters, leading roles, and I think that in itself makes it unusual,” Daniels said. “There’s no role that out front and the others kind of serve it (the play). It’s such a universal, accessible subject matter: four parents trying to be civil while they try to parent each other’s child. It’s got conflict written all over it.”
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.”
Said the Australia-born, Rush, already an Oscar winner: “It’s very exciting for me because I’ve always been a fan of the Broadway musical ever since I was a child. ... And the fact that this play, this production, comes from Australia — I think we may be the first play to cross that very big pond: the Pacific.”
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.”
Josefina 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.”
“It is a pleasure to be nominated among such great talents,” Scaglione said.
And facing the three “Billy Elliot” boys will be Gavin Creel, “Hair”; Brian d’Arcy James, “Shrek The Musical”; “American Idol” alum Constantine Maroulis, “Rock of Ages”; and J. Robert Spencer, “Next to Normal.”
Among the more celebrated feature performer nominations was the one to Angela Lansbury for her performance as the delightfully dotty Madame Arcati in the revival of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.” The actress already has four Tonys for her roles in “Mame,” “Dear World,” a revival of “Gypsy” and “Sweeney Todd.”
Dolly Parton was nominated for her score of “9 to 5,” but the show was passed over for a coveted best musical nod.
And there were more snubs, too. In this play-heavy season, a lot of well-known actors were passed over including Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Radcliffe, Carla Gugino, Brian Dennehy, Frank Langella, Tovah Feldshuh, Jeremy Irons, Joan Allen and John Lithgow.
Broadway has had an exceptionally busy spring, but now the shakeout begins. Besides “Billy Elliot,” the most popular box-office attractions have been “God of Carnage,” “West Side Story” and “Hair,” the last two nominated for musical revival. All received multiple nominations.
Some shows that needed nominations — such as the struggling “reasons to be pretty” — got them. Others, including “Desire Under the Elms” and “Irena’s Vow,” did not. Stay tuned.
Winners will be announced June 7 during a three-hour ceremony televised by CBS from Radio City Music Hall.
© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.