Monty Python's Spamalot, the hit musical based on the work of the British comedy troupe, led nominations on Thursday for the 50th annual Drama Desk awards, often a harbinger of Broadway theater's June Tony Awards. Based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, written by original Python member Eric Idle, and directed by Broadway veteran Mike Nichols, Spamalot secured 12 nominations. Following close behind in the nominations tally with 11 was The Light in the Piazza, an operalike musical based on the film of the same name.
Piazza, the story of a mother and daughter visiting Italy in the 1950s, took a leading 11 nominations last week for the Outer Critics Circle awards. Spamalot received eight nods from the Outer Critics Circle. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, yet another Broadway musical based on a movie, garnered 10 Drama Desk nominations. But film star John Lithgow was not nominated for his leading role in the comic tale of two con artists on the French Riviera. Spamalot, Piazza, and Scoundrels will compete in the Best Musical category with Altar Boyz, The Audience, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Religious themes played a leading role in the nominees for Best Play. Doubt, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning story of a nun who accuses a priest of child molestation, takes on Democracy, Pentecost, The Pillowman, Sailor's Song, and Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) in the category. In contention for Best Revival of a Play are Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Glengarry Glen Ross, Hurlyburly, Outward Bound, Pullman Car Hiawatha, and Twelve Angry Men. Competing for Best Musical Revival are Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, La Cage aux Folles, On Second Avenue, and Sweet Charity.
Spamalot has turned into a monster hit on Broadway, setting box-office records and bringing in both traditional theater fans and others who grew up loving Britain's Monty Python comedy troupe but might not be regular theatergoers. The show's nods include two Best Actor nominations for its Emmy-winning stars David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria as well as nominations for original Python member Idle, for his book and lyrics. Nichols was nominated as Best Director. While the Tony Awards only honor Broadway productions, both the Drama Desk Awards and Outer Critics Circle also celebrate off-Broadway productions. The Drama Desk is a group of New York journalists who cover theater. The Outer Critics Circle is a group of journalists who cover New York theater for out-of-town media. The Drama Desk Awards will be presented on May 22. (Mark Porter, via Reuters)