Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steven Weberannouncing this season's Tony Award nominations(Photo: Michael Portantiere)
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Steven Weber
announcing this season's Tony Award nominations
(Photo: Michael Portantiere)
No gasps and few murmurs were heard during the reading of the 2002 Tony Award nominations by Proof's Jennifer Jason Leigh and The Producers' Steven Weber at the venerable theater district restaurant Sardi's this morning. There are no major shocks as to those shows and performances that are and aren't included among the nominees, though a few of the choices might be classified as mildly surprising.

For example: Though the Tonys are often thought to be loath to dole out nominations and awards to shows that have closed, there are several exceptions this year. As expected, Norbert Leo Butz received a Best Featured Actor in a Musical nomination for his stellar performance in the otherwise tremendously disappointing Thou Shalt Not, while Kate Burton and Helen Mirren were nominated for their leading roles in (respectively) Hedda Gabler and Dance of Death. In an unusual circumstance, Burton is also a nominee for her featured performance in The Elephant Man, which is still running. And John Carrafa will be competing against himself for a Best Choreography Tony, having been nominated for both Into the Woods and Urinetown the Musical.

There are several cases of questionable classification in the list of nominees. For instance, John Cullum was nominated as Best Actor in a Musical for what many people might consider to be a featured role in Urinetown, while Jeff McCarthy wasn't nominated at all for his excellent work in a much larger part in the same show. And even those of us who very much enjoyed Gavin Creel as Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie might be surprised to see him listed among the hopefuls for Best Actor in a Musical rather than in the featured actor category.

As in the past, the nominees include some individuals (e.g., Harry Connick and Vanessa Williams) who arguably were cited more for name value than for their achievements in the theater this season. On the other hand, Sir Ian McKellen--now a major movie star thanks to his appearances in such flicks as The Lord of the Rings and X-Men --did not receive a nomination for his lauded performance opposite Mirren in Dance of Death. One nominee that might be considered very odd in light of critical reaction is Catherine Johnson for her book for Mamma Mia!

Come Sunday, June 2, Elaine Stritch could essentially win a Tony Award without actually winning a Tony Award. Stritch's one-woman show At Liberty is the odds-on favorite to win in the Special Theatrical Achievement category. But according to Roy Somlyo, president of the American Theatre Wing (which presents the awards in partnership with the League of American Theatres and Producers), "That award goes to the production. It so happens that all four nominees this year are one-person shows. It's up to the winning producers as to whether or not they want to bring up the star of their show to accept the award, and we would hope that they will. We're going to discuss the issue in our rules committee and maybe make it very specific as to who accepts the award, but that won't happen till next year."

In addition to the nominees, two special awards for lifetime achievement were announced: They will be presented to actress Julie Harris and producer Robert Whitehead in honor of their bodies of work throughout their legendary careers. The winner of this year's regional theater award is the highly regarded Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The 2002 Tony Awards ceremony will be held on June 2 at Radio City Music Hall. The first hour of the ceremony (8-9pm ET/PT) will be televised by PBS, and the remainder (9-11pm ET/PT) by CBS. A limited number of tickets to the awards are available to the public at $150 and $350 beginning today at 10am; phone the Ticketmaster Tony Hotline at 212-307-4544 for reservations, but be aware that Visa is the only credit card accepted for this purpose.

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Best Play:
Edward Albee's The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?
Fortune's Fool
Metamorphoses
Topdog/Underdog

Best Musical:
Mamma Mia!
Sweet Smell of Success
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Urinetown The Musical

Best Book of a Musical:
Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia!
John Guare, Sweet Smell of Success
Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Greg Kotis, Urinetown The Musical

Best Original Score Written for the Theater:
Marvin Hamlisch (music), Craig Carnelia (lyrics), Sweet Smell of Success
Jeanine Tesori (music), Dick Scanlan (lyrics), Thoroughly Modern Millie
Harry Connick, Jr. (music & lyrics), Thou Shalt Not
Mark Hollmann (music), Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis (lyrics), Urinetown The Musical

Best Revival of a Play:
The Crucible
Morning's at Seven
Noises Off
Private Lives

Best Revival of a Musical:
Into the Woods
Oklahoma!

Best Special Theatrical Event:
Bea Arthur on Broadway, Just Between Friends
Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Mostly Sondheim
Sexaholix...a love story

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play:
Alan Bates, Fortune's Fool
Billy Crudup, The Elephant Man
Liam Neeson, The Crucible
Alan Rickman, Private Lives
Jeffrey Wright, Topdog/Underdog

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:
Kate Burton, Hedda Gabler
Lindsay Duncan, Private Lives
Laura Linney, The Crucible
Helen Mirren, Dance of Death
Mercedes Ruehl, Edward Albee's The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical:
Gavin Creel, Thoroughly Modern Millie
John Cullum, Urinetown The Musical
John Lithgow, Sweet Smell of Success
John McMartin, Into the Woods
Patrick Wilson, Oklahoma!

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:
Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Nancy Opel, Urinetown The Musical
Louise Pitre, Mamma Mia!
Jennifer Laura Thompson, Urinetown The Musical
Vanessa Williams, Into the Woods

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play:
Frank Langella, Fortune's Fool
William Biff McGuire, Morning's at Seven
Brian Murray, The Crucible
Sam Robards, The Man Who Had All the Luck
Stephen Tobolowsky, Morning's at Seven

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play:
Kate Burton, The Elephant Man
Katie Finneran, Noises Off
Elizabeth Franz, Morning's at Seven
Estelle Parsons, Morning's at Seven
Frances Sternhagen, Morning's at Seven

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical:
Norbert Leo Butz, Thou Shalt Not
Gregg Edelman, Into the Woods
Shuler Hensley, Oklahoma!
Brian d'Arcy James, Sweet Smell of Success
Marc Kudisch, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical:
Laura Benanti, Into the Woods
Harriet Harris, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Spencer Kayden, Urinetown The Musical
Judy Kaye, Mamma Mia!
Andrea Martin, Oklahoma!

Best Scenic Design:
John Lee Beatty, Morning's at Seven
Tim Hatley, Private Lives
Daniel Ostling, Metamorphoses
Douglas W. Schmidt, Into the Woods

Best Costume Design:
Jenny Beavan, Private Lives
Jane Greenwood, Morning's at Seven
Susan Hilferty, Into the Woods
Martin Pakledinaz, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Best Lighting Design:
Paul Gallo, The Crucible
David Hersey, Oklahoma!
Natasha Katz, Sweet Smell of Success
Brian MacDevitt, Into the Woods

Best Choreography:
Rob Ashford, Thoroughly Modern Millie
John Carrafa, Into the Woods
John Carrafa, Urinetown The Musical
Susan Stroman, Oklahoma!

Best Direction of a Play:
Howard Davies, Private Lives
Richard Eyre, The Crucible
Daniel Sullivan, Morning's at Seven
Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses

Best Direction of a Musical:
James Lapine, Into the Woods
Michael Mayer, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Trevor Nunn, Oklahoma!
John Rando, Urinetown The Musical

Best Orchestrations:
Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus & Martin Koch, Mamma Mia!
Doug Besterman & Ralph Burns, Thoroughly Modern Millie
William David Brohn, Sweet Smell of Success
Bruce Coughlin, Urinetown The Musical

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater:
Julie Harris
Robert Whitehead

Regional Theater Tony Award:
Williamstown Theatre Festival