<i>Hairspray</i> leads Tony contenders with 13 nominations (8612)

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Hairspray leads Tony contenders with 13 nominations

Hairspray, a campy musical remake of out director John Waters's 1988 film; a dance show based on Billy Joel's songs; and a Fellini-inspired musical starring Antonio Banderas--these three productions scooped up the most Tony award nominations on Monday. Hairspray won 13 nominations. The rollicking, feel-good show about the dreams of disenfranchised teenagers in 1962 Baltimore faces plenty of competition in a 57th annual Tony Awards chase that offers several intriguing races. Other musicals include Movin' Out, the Joel songbook brought to the stage by Twyla Tharp, and Nine the Musical, inspired by Fellini's 1963 film, 8 1/2. Movin' Out got 10 nominations, while Nine had eight.

The play that won the most nominations was Long Day's Journey Into Night, with seven, including one for each of the four main characters in the four-hour production--Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Dennehy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Sean Leonard. Take Me Out, about a baseball star revealing he is gay, was nominated for best play along with Enchanted April, Say Goodnight Gracie, and Vincent in Brixton. Joining Long Day's Journey in the best revival category were A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Dinner at Eight, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Nominated for best musical along with Hairspray were Movin' Out, the short-lived Amour, and the children-friendly A Year With Frog and Toad. The best revival of a musical was a glittery list that included Nine, Gypsy, La Bohème, and Man of La Mancha.

"You've got some really great races this year," said League of American Theaters and Producers chief Jed Bernstein. "Best actor in a musical has Antonio Banderas going against Harvey Fierstein [Hairspray]. Best actress has Bernadette Peters [Gypsy] and Marissa Jaret Winokur [Hairspray]. You have Nine versus Gypsy and Hairspray versus Movin' Out. Four great races."

La Bohème, Baz Luhrmann's rich staging of Puccini's opera, got six nominations and was already a winner with a special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater given the principal ensemble, which rotates 10 actors in the primary roles. David Richenthal, producer of Long Day's Journey, marveled at the response of audiences to Robert Falls's staging of the classic drama by Eugene O'Neill. "The response has been resounding, shockingly so," said Richenthal, who said the show sold $1.5 million in tickets in six days after a flock of rave reviews and broke box office records with a $4 million advance sale.

The Tonys will be handed out June 8 at Radio City Music Hall.


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