The Tony Award
The Tony Award
It was the Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical category that really got a rise out of the normally jaded journalists, press reps, and other industry folk gathered at Sardi's for the announcement of the 2001 Tony Award nominations this morning by Eric McCormack and Reba McEntire. As McCormack ticked off the names in said category, murmurs and gasps were heard, with good reason: The fact that three performers from the same show-- Roger Bart, Gary Beach, and Brad Oscar of The Producers--would be competing against each other for the award was notable not only in itself, but because the unusual (though not unprecedented) triple nod helped The Producers earn a record 15 nominations.

Rounding out the Featured Actor in a Musical category are two of the manly men from The Full Monty, John Ellison Conlee and André De Shields. In the end, Monty garnered 10 nominations, which would have seemed really terrific in any other year. The financially floundering Ed Kleban musical A Class Act earned five nominations: for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (the wonderful Randy Graff), and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hoch)--though lead actor Lonny Price was deemed unworthy of inclusion.

There are a number of other head-scratchers among the nominees. Jane Eyre for Book of a Musical? Michael Hayden, rather than Maximilian Schell, for Judgment at Nuremberg? Kate Levering for Featured Actress for 42nd Street and, even more inexplicably, Mark Bramble for direction of that show? Theoni V. Aldredge, who more or less told the New York Times that her costumes for Follies weren't going to be very good due to budget constraints, for her work there? Five nominations for A Class Act and only one (Kevin Chamberlin, leading actor) for Seussical?

Also: Though I personally loved the show, it was quite unexpected that the critically dismissed drum corps extravaganza Blast! would garner not only a Tony nomination for choreographers Jim Moore, George Pinney, and John Vanderkloff but also an actual award in the brand new category of Special Theatrical Event. (All of those fresh-faced kids from middle-America must be happy campers this morning.) On another note, observers of a sarcastic nature might suggest that the well-deserved Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement to musical director Paul Gemignani happened this year partly due to sympathy over the fact that the poor guy has to conduct The Adventures of Tom Sawyer every night.

Victory Gardens Theater of Chicago will receive a Tony at the awards ceremony on June 3 at Radio City Music Hall for displaying "a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theater nationally." Other honorees announced this morning are (1) Betty Corwin and the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, (2) the New Dramatists playwright workshop, and (3) Theatre World, the annual statistics and photography book that has been published since 1945.

The Tony ceremony on Sunday, June 3 will be televised on PBS (the first 10 awards, 8-9pm, ET/PT) and CBS (the really-big-deal awards, 9-11pm). A limited number of tickets is available to the general public at $100 and $250, beginning today; phone 212-307-4544 for information.

Following is a complete list of the 2001 Tony Award nominees:

Best Play:
The Invention of Love
King Hedley II
Proof
The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

Best Musical:
A Class Act
The Full Monty
Jane Eyre
The Producers

Best Book of a Musical:
A Class Act, Linda Kline and Lonny Price
The Full Monty, Terrence McNally
Jane Eyre, John Caird
The Producers, Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan

Best Original Score:
A Class Act, music and lyrics by Edward Kleban
The Full Monty, music and lyrics by David Yazbek
Jane Eyre, music by Paul Gordon, lyrics by Paul Gordon and John Caird
The Producers, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks

Best Revival of a Play:
Betrayal
Gore Vidal's The Best Man
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Best Revival of a Musical:
Bells Are Ringing
Follies
42nd Street
The Rocky Horror Show

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play:
Seán Campion, Stones in His Pockets
Richard Easton, The Invention of Love
Conleth Hill, Stones in His Pockets
Brian Stokes Mitchell, King Hedley II
Gary Sinise, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:
Juliette Binoche, Betrayal
Linda Lavin, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife
Mary-Louise Parker, Proof
Jean Smart, The Man Who Came to Dinner
Leslie Uggams, King Hedley II

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical:
Matthew Broderick, The Producers
Kevin Chamberlin, Seussical
Tom Hewitt, The Rocky Horror Show
Nathan Lane, The Producers
Patrick Wilson, The Full Monty

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical:
Blythe Danner, Follies
Christine Ebersole, 42nd Street
Randy Graff, A Class Act
Faith Prince, Bells Are Ringing
Marla Schaffel, Jane Eyre

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play:
Charles Brown, King Hedley II
Larry Bryggman, Proof
Michael Hayden, Judgment at Nuremberg
Robert Sean Leonard, The Invention of Love
Ben Shenkman, Proof

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play:
Viola Davis, King Hedley II
Johanna Day, Proof
Penny Fuller, The Dinner Party
Marthe Keller, Judgment at Nuremberg
Michele Lee, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical:
Roger Bart, The Producers
Gary Beach, The Producers
John Ellison Conlee, The Full Monty
André De Shields, The Full Monty
Brad Oscar, The Producers

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical:
Polly Bergen, Follies
Kathleen Freeman, The Full Monty
Cady Huffman, The Producers
Kate Levering, 42nd Street
Mary Testa, 42nd Street

Best Direction of a Play
Marion McClinton, King Hedley II
Ian McElhinney, Stones in His Pockets
Jack O'Brien, The Invention of Love
Daniel Sullivan, Proof

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, The Rocky Horror Show
Mark Bramble, 42nd Street
Jack O'Brien, The Full Monty
Susan Stroman, The Producers

Best Choreography:
Jerry Mitchell, The Full Monty
Jim Morgan, George Pinney, and John Vanderkloff, Blast!
Randy Skinner, 42nd Street
Susan Stroman, The Producers

Best Scenic Design:
Bob Crowley, The Invention of Love
Heidi Ettinger, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Douglas W. Schmidt, 42nd Street
Robin Wagner, The Producers

Best Costume Design:
Theoni V. Aldredge, Follies
Roger Kirk, 42nd Street
William Ivey Long, The Producers
David C. Woolard, The Rocky Horror Show

Best Lighting Design:
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Jane Eyre
Paul Gallo, 42nd Street
Peter Kaczorowski, The Producers
Kenneth Posner, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Best Orchestrations:
Doug Besterman, The Producers
Larry Hochman, A Class Act
Jonathan Tunick, Follies
Harold Wheeler, The Full Monty