'Billy Elliot' heads US theatre award nominations

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"Billy Elliot," the season's biggest musical hit, dominated the 2009 Tony Award nominations today, 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' "Early Show," which telecast early nominations. "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 competing against each other.

For best-actor play, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels, stars of "God of Carnage," will go up against 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.

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 — 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."

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 nominated 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."

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 on 7 June at Radio City Music Hall.

Nominations for the 2009 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards:

BEST PLAY: "Dividing the Estate," "God of Carnage," "Reasons to be Pretty," "33 Variations."

BEST MUSICAL: "Billy Elliot, The Musical," "Next to Normal," "Rock of Ages," "Shrek The Musical."

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL: "Billy Elliot, The Musical," "Next to Normal," "Shrek The Musical," "(Title of Show)."

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE: "Billy Elliot, The Musical," "Next to Normal," "9 to 5: The Musical," "Shrek The Musical."

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY: "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," "Mary Stuart," "The Norman Conquests," "Waiting for Godot."

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL: "Guys and Dolls," "Hair," "Pal Joey," "West Side Story."

BEST SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT: "Liza's at The Palace," "Slava's Snowshow," "Soul of Shaolin," "You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY: Jeff Daniels, "God of Carnage"; Raul Esparza, "Speed-the-Plow"; James Gandolfini, "God of Carnage"; Geoffrey Rush, "Exit the King"; Thomas Sadoski, "Reasons to Be Pretty."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY: Hope Davis, "God of Carnage"; Jane Fonda, "33 Variations"; Marcia Gay Harden, "God of Carnage"; Janet McTeer, "Mary Stuart"; Harriet Walter, "Mary Stuart."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Gavin Creel, "Hair"; Brian d'Arcy James, "Shrek The Musical"; Constantine Maroulis, "Rock of Ages"; J. Robert Spencer, "Next to Normal."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Stockard Channing, "Pal Joey"; Sutton Foster, "Shrek The Musical"; Allison Janney, "9 to 5: The Musical"; Alice Ripley, "Next to Normal"; Josefina Scaglione, "West Side Story."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY: John Glover, "Waiting for Godot"; Zach Grenier, "33 Variations"; Stephen Mangan, "The Norman Conquests"; Paul Ritter, "The Norman Conquests"; Roger Robinson, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY: Hallie Foote, "Dividing the Estate"; Jessica Hynes, "The Norman Conquests"; Marin Ireland, "reasons to be pretty"; Angela Lansbury, "Blithe Spirit"; Amanda Root, "The Norman Conquests."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL: David Bologna, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Gregory Jbara, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Marc Kudisch, "9 to 5: The Musical"; Christopher Sieber, "Shrek The Musical"; Will Swenson, "Hair."

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL: Jennifer Damiano, "Next to Normal"; Haydn Gwynne, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Karen Olivo, "West Side Story"; Martha Plimpton, "Pal Joey"; Carole Shelley, "Billy Elliot, The Musical."

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY: Dale Ferguson, "Exit the King"; Rob Howell, "The Norman Conquests"; Derek McLane, "33 Variations"; Michael Yeargan, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Robert Brill, "Guys and Dolls"; Ian MacNeil, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Scott Pask, "Pal Joey"; Mark Wendland, "Next to Normal."

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY: Dale Ferguson, "Exit the King"; Jane Greenwood, "Waiting for Godot"; Martin Pakledinaz, "Blithe Spirit"; Anthony Ward, "Mary Stuart."

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Gregory Gale, "Rock of Ages"; Nicky Gillibrand, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Tim Hatley, "Shrek The Musical"; Michael McDonald, "Hair."

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY: David Hersey, "Equus"; David Lander, "33 Variations"; Brian MacDevitt, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"; Hugh Vanstone, "Mary Stuart."

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Kevin Adams, "Hair"; Kevin Adams, "Next to Normal"; Howell Binkley, "West Side Story"; Rick Fisher, "Billy Elliot, The Musical."

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY: Paul Arditti, "Mary Stuart"; Gregory Clarke, "Equus"; Russell Goldsmith, "Exit the King"; Scott Lehrer and Leon Rothenberg, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL: Acme Sound Partners, "Hair"; Paul Arditti, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Peter Hylenski, "Rock of Ages"; Brian Ronan, "Next to Normal."

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY: Phyllida Lloyd, "Mary Stuart"; Bartlett Sher, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"; Matthew Warchus, "God of Carnage"; Matthew Warchus, "The Norman Conquests."

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL: Stephen Daldry, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Michael Greif, "Next to Normal"; Kristin Hanggi, "Rock of Ages" Diane Paulus, "Hair."

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Karole Armitage, "Hair"; Andy Blankenbuehler, "9 to 5: The Musical"; Peter Darling, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Randy Skinner, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas."

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: Larry Blank, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"; Martin Koch, "Billy Elliot, The Musical"; Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, "Next to Normal" Danny Troob and John Clancy, "Shrek The Musical."

--

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE: Jerry Herman.

REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD: Signature Theatre, Arlington, Va.

ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD: Phyllis Newman.

TONY HONOR FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATRE: Shirley Herz.

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