Child actors denied top prize as Matilda the musical sweeps Tony Award nominations


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The Independent Culture

It’s a decision worthy of that tyrannical stickler for the rules, Miss Trunchbull.

Matilda is tipped to sweep the board at the Tony awards but the four child actresses who rotate in the title role of the Broadway musical will not be eligible for a top prize.

The musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel which charmed New York audiences after a hit West End run, is the front-runner for best musical at the Tony stage awards, the US equivalent of the Oliviers.

The producers of Matilda requested joint eligibility in the best actress in a musical category for the four leads - Sophia Gennusa, 9, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro, all 10.

In 2009, the three teenage boys who shared the lead role in Billy Elliot were deemed eligible for a joint best actor Tony nomination and went on to win that category.

At the 2012 Olivier awards, the best actress in a musical prize was presented jointly to the West End show’s four Matildas.

However the Tony committee rejected the Matilda request and instead announced that the four actresses would receive a special award - Tony Honours for Excellence in the Theatre - “to recognise their outstanding performances this season.” None will be eligible in the best actress category.

No reason was given for the ruling but there had been disquiet over the Billy Elliot award from some theatre producers who argued that Tony Award voters would not have seen each of the actors perform before casting their ballot. Some argue that only performers who complete all the performances in a role should be considered.

A spokeswoman for Matilda said: “The Matilda producers appreciate the decision of the Tony administration committee.”

However British shows feature strongly at the Tony awards. Matilda, an RSC production, receives 12 nominations, including one for Australian composer Tim Minchin, for best score.

Kinky Boots, based on a 2005 British film about a shoe factory that finds a new outlet making fetish footwear, has received 13 nods, including one for Cyndi Lauper’s original score.

Bertie Carvel - who plays the sadistic headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Matilda – is up for Best Actor. He competes against another cross-dressing actor, Billy Porter, who plays a drag queen in Kinky Boots.

The other contenders for the best musical prize, traditionally the biggest reward on Tony night, include Bring It On: The Musical, the hit-stuffed Motown: The Musical, the quick-to-close Hands on a Hardbody and A Christmas Story, The Musical.

Tom Hanks receives his first Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in Nora Ephron's play Lucky Guy.

Hanks, who starred in Ephron's films Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail, received rave reviews for his performance when it opened last month.

Ephron receives a posthumous best new play nomination for Lucky Guy, which she was writing when she died last year aged 71.

British actor Tom Sturridge, recognised for his role in the revival of Lyle Kessler's play Orphans, is up against Hanks for the best actor award.

The 870 members of the Tony academy will decide the final awards, which will be presented at Radio City Music Hall on June 9.