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Facts Every Tony and Drama Desk Enthusiast Should Know About This Year's Nominees

TheaterMania looks into some fascinating history behind this year's Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations.

The Assembled Parties Drama Desk and Tony nominee Judith Light.
(© David Gordon)
We won't know the big winners of the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony Awards until May 19 and June 9, respectively. But here are some things we do know about many of the productions, actors, and designers who have already been honored by those groups' nominators.

Adaptations are the way to go if you're writing musicals. Matilda, Kinky Boots, A Christmas Story, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Bring It On, and Hands on a Hardbody all have their roots in books and movies.

Christopher Durang, whose Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was nominated for Best Play by both the Drama Desks and the Tonys, had previously been nominated only once for a Tony, in 1978 for Best Book of a Musical (A History of the American Film). He received Drama Desk nominations for writing the Off-Broadway hits Betty's Summer Vacation and The Marriage of Bette & Boo, as well an acting nomination for his work in Das Lusitania Spongspiel, which he also wrote.

Actress Judith Light, a Tony and Drama Desk nominee this year for The Assembled Parties, won both the Tony and Drama Desk in 2012 for Other Desert Cities and was nominated by both groups in 2011 for her work in Lombardi.

Other 2013 Tony nominees who were also recognized last year include Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella actress Laura Osnes (Bonnie and Clyde), Golden Boy actor Danny Burstein (Follies), The Trip to Bountiful actress Condola Rashad (Stick Fly), and Pippin director Diane Paulus (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess).

Also added to Light, previous winners from today's list include The Nance star Nathan Lane (The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike star David Hyde Pierce (Curtains), The Heiress actress Judith Ivey (Steaming, Hurlyburly), and Pippin player Andrea Martin (My Favorite Year). Martin has received four previous Tony nominations, more than any other acting nominee this year.

Tony and Drama Desk nominee Tracy Letts, honored for his acting work in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, previously won both awards for his work as the playwright of August: Osage County.

A quad of Tony nominees for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
(© David Gordon)

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was the only show nominated by the Tonys in all four acting categories, recognizing David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, Billy Magnussen, and Shalita Grant. The Drama Desk similarly nominated four actors in different categories, but for The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Jim Norton, Stephanie J. Block, Andy Karl, and Jessie Mueller.

Contrary to popular opinion, nominators do remember actors in closed shows. In addition to Letts, Block, Burstein, and Ivey, Tony and Drama Desk nominators both recognized Amy Morton (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Keala Settle (Hands on a Hardbody), Keith Carradine (Hands on a Hardbody), Tony Shalhoub (Golden Boy), and Carolee Carmello (Scandalous). Tony nominators tipped their hats to Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place), Rob McClure (Chaplin), Carrie Coon (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and Will Chase (The Mystery of Edwin Drood).

Neither awards group honored any of the child performers who graced Broadway this season, including Annie star Lilla Crawford or A Christmas Story's Johnny Rabe. As previously reported, the four girls rotating in the lead role of Matilda are receiving a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.

Among the many former Tony nominees looking for their first win this year are director Scott Ellis (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), actor Terrence Mann (Pippin), actor Courtney B. Vance (Lucky Guy), writer Douglas Carter Beane (Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella), set designer David Rockwell (Lucky Guy and Kinky Boots), and costume designer Ann Roth (The Nance) — who received her first of six Tony nominations in 1965.

Set designer John Lee Beatty (The Nance) won a Tony his first time out in 1980, for Talley's Folly, and has not won since. Lighting designer Jules Fisher (Lucky Guy) has received 20 previous Tony Award nominations and won eight times. Lighting designer Kenneth Posner received three separate Tony nominations this year in the same category, for his work on Kinky Boots, Pippin, and Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, and is only competing opposite Hugh Vanstone for Matilda.

Finally, congratulations to the happy couple: Matilda director Matthew Warchus and his wife, actress Lauren Ward (who plays Miss Honey in the show), were both nominated today for Tonys.