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Tony nominations include ‘Heights,’ ‘Passing Strange’

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 12:40 am | Updated: 9:17 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

“In the Heights,” the little barrio musical that brought a fresh salsa and hip-hop beat to Broadway, dominated the 2008 Tony Award nominations Tuesday, picking up 13, more than any other show.

But it was a day of other new faces, too, particularly in the best-musical category, where “Heights” will compete against diverse, high-spirited shows such as “Passing Strange,” “Cry-Baby” and “Xanadu.”

For Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and composer of “In the Heights,” the nominations were a double treat. He received two (actor-musical and score) nominations for “Heights,” a slice of life look at the Latino residents of Upper Manhattan. The musical began last year off-Broadway before moving to the big time.

“It’s so much fun just doing the show — eight times a week,” Miranda said. “I’m doing what I love every day. So this is all just icing, gravy, whatever you put on the cake.”

Yet Stew, author and star of “Passing Strange,” the story of one man’s journey through sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, did Miranda two better. He received four nominations for the same show — actor, score, book and orchestrations of a musical. It’s the first time that’s happened since Elizabeth Swados received four nominations in 1978 for “Runaways.”

“I would have been happy with whatever they gave us because this whole experience has been so unprecedented for us as rock musicians,” said Stew, who is making his Broadway debut in “Passing Strange.”

“So we’re just surprised that we actually walk to work every day and the show’s still standing there. We’re surprised anytime we go on stage.”

Tradition was served by Lincoln Center Theater’s elegant revival of “South Pacific.” The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, first seen on Broadway nearly 60 years ago, received 11 nominations, including one for musical revival where its competition is “Gypsy,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Grease.”

As expected, “August: Osage County,” already a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, received a best-play nomination — and six others. Tracy Letts’ play about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family faces “The 39 Steps,” Patrick Barlow’s spoof of the Alfred Hitchcock film favorite; Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer,” a Yuletide tale of a devilish poker game; and Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a look at recent Czech history interspersed with a cavalcade of pop music.

There were a few starry names in the acting categories, most notably Patrick Stewart, Laurence Fishburne and S. Epatha Merkerson.

“There’s never been an actor who has had greater, brilliant support than I do from our other 17 actors,” said a jubilant Stewart, who plays the title character in “Macbeth,” imported from England’s Chichester Festival. “So in ... this fantastically creative environment, (director) Rupert (Goold) just set me free to explore this poor, sad, murderous madman and have as much fun with it as possible.”

Said Fishburne, now playing Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the one-man show “Thurgood”: “I am totally, completely shocked and amazed by all of this. More than that, I am grateful and truly blessed that every night I get to play one of the most compelling and extraordinary men from the 20th century.”

Their competition for the actor-play prize include Ben Daniels, a scheming nobleman in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”; Mark Rylance, a mild-mannered visitor to Paris in “Boeing-Boeing”; and Rufus Sewell, an accidental Czech dissident in “Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

“I started in the theater, so it’s a real honor for me to get the recognition from the theater community because it’s really where my roots are,” said Merkerson of her portrayal of a lonely housewife in a revival of William Inge’s “Come Back, Little Sheba.”

Merkerson faces Eve Best, the sexually provocative wife in “The Homecoming”; Kate Fleetwood, Stewart’s bloody helpmate in “Macbeth”; and two women from “August: Osage County,” Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton, who play a combative mother and daughter.

Patti LuPone as a ferocious stage mother in “Gypsy” heads the list of nominees for the actress-musical prize. Others nominated include Kelli O’Hara as the sunny Nellie Forbush of “South Pacific”; Faith Prince, the unhappily married mother in “A Catered Affair”; Jenna Russell, the artist’s lover in “Sunday in the Park With George”; and Kerry Butler, a roller-skating Greek muse in “Xanadu.”

Besides Miranda and Stew, the actor-musical nominees are Paulo Szot, the French plantation owner in “South Pacific”; Daniel Evans, painter Georges Seurat in “Sunday in the Park With George”; and Tom Wopat, the resentful husband in “A Catered Affair.”

Yet some big-name actors were left out of the Tony mix — most notably Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane and James Earl Jones. Snubbed for a coveted best-musical slot were Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “A Catered Affair.” Left without any nominations at all were the popular revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and the Mike Nichols-directed production of “The Country Girl.”

A special lifetime achievement Tony will go to Stephen Sondheim, with a special Tony awarded posthumously to orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett, who died in 1981. The regional theater Tony will go to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The winners in 26 competitive categories will be announced June 15 in a three-hour CBS telecast from Radio City Music Hall.

TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS

Best Play

August: Osage County

Author: Tracy Letts

Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler, Jerry Frankel, Ostar Productions, Jennifer Manocherian, The Weinstein Company, Debra Black/Daryl Roth, Ronald & Marc Frankel/Barbara Freitag, Rick Steiner/Staton Bell Group, The Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Rock 'n' Roll

Author: Tom Stoppard

Producers: Bob Boyett & Sonia Friedman Productions, Ostar Productions, Roger Berlind, Tulchin/Bartner, Douglas G. Smith, Dancap Productions, Jam Theatricals, The Weinstein Company, Lincoln Center Theater, The Royal Court Theatre London

The Seafarer

Author: Conor McPherson

Producers: Ostar Productions, Bob Boyett, Roy Furman, Lawrence Horowitz, Jam Theatricals, Bill Rollnick/Nancy Ellison Rollnick, James D'Orta, Thomas S. Murphy, Ralph Guild/Jon Avnet, Philip Geier/Keough Partners, Eric Falkenstein/Max OnStage, The National Theatre of Great Britain

The 39 Steps

Author: Patrick Barlow

Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Bob Boyett, Harriet Newman Leve/Ron Nicynski, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Manocherian Golden Prods., Olympus Theatricals/Douglas Denoff, Marek J. Cantor/Pat Addiss, Huntington Theatre Company/Nicholas Martin/Michael Maso, Edward Snape for Fiery Angel Ltd.

Best Musical

Cry-Baby

Producer: Adam Epstein, Allan S. Gordon, ����lan V. McAllister, Brian Grazer, James P. MacGilvray, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Anne Caruso, Adam S. Gordon, Latitude Link, The Pelican Group, Philip Morgaman, Andrew Farber/Richard Mishaan

In The Heights

Producers: Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller, Jill Furman, Sander Jacobs, Goodman/Grossman, Peter Fine, Everett/Skipper

Passing Strange

Producers: The Shubert Organization, Elizabeth Ireland McCann LLC, Bill Kenwright, Chase Mishkin, Barbara & Buddy Freitag, Broadway Across America, Emily Fisher Landau, Peter May, Boyett Ostar, Larry Hirschhorn, Janet Pailet/Steve Klein, Elie Hirschfeld/Jed Bernstein, Spring Sirkin/Ruth Hendel, Vasi Laurence/Pat Flicker Addiss, Wendy Federman/Jackie Barlia Florin, Joey Parnes, The Public Theater, The Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Producers: Robert Ahrens, Dan Vickery, Tara Smith/B. Swibel, Sarah Murchison/Dale Smith

Best Book of a Musical

Cry-Baby

Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan

In The Heights

Quiara Alegr����a Hudes

Passing Strange

Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Cry-Baby

Music & Lyrics: David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger

In The Heights

Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

The Little Mermaid

Music: Alan Menken

Lyrics: Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater

Passing Strange

Music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald

Lyrics: Stew

Best Revival of a Play

Boeing-Boeing

Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, Bob Boyett, Act Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert G. Bartner, The Weinstein Company, Susan Gallin/Mary Lu Roffe, Broadway Across America, Tulchin/Jenkins/DSM, The Araca Group

The Homecoming

Producers: Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Ergo Entertainment, Barbara & Buddy Freitag, Michael Gardner, Herbert Goldsmith Productions, Terry E. Schnuck, Harold Thau, Michael Filerman/Lynne Peyser, Ronald Frankel/David Jaroslawicz, Love Bunny Entertainment

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy

Producers: Duncan C. Weldon & Paul Elliott, Jeffrey Archer, Bill Ballard, Terri & Timothy Childs, Rodger Hess, David Mirvish, Adriana Mnuchin, Emanuel Azenberg, BAM, The Chichester Festival Theatre

Best Revival of a Musical

Producers: Paul Nicholas and David Ian, Nederlander Presentations Inc., Terry Allen Kramer, Robert Stigwood

Producers: Roger Berlind, The Routh-Frankel-Baruch-Viertel Group, Roy Furman, Debra Black, Ted Hartley, Roger Horchow, David Ian, Scott Rudin, Jack Viertel

Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Producers: Lincoln Center Theater, Andr���� Bishop, Bernard Gersten, Bob Boyett

Sunday in the Park with George

Producers: Roundabout Theatre Company, Todd Haimes, Harold Wolpert, Julia C. Levy, Bob Boyett, Debra Black, Jam Theatricals, Stephanie P. McClelland, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Barbara Manocherian/Jennifer Manocherian, Ostar Productions, The Menier Chocolate Factory/David Babani

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood

Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing

Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll

Patrick Stewart, Macbeth

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Eve Best, The Homecoming

Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County

Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth

S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba

Amy Morton, August: Osage County

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George

Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights

Stew, Passing Strange

Paulo Szot, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kerry Butler, Xanadu

Patti LuPone, Gypsy

Kelli O'Hara, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Faith Prince, A Catered Affair

Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius

Raul Esparza, The Homecoming

Conleth Hill, The Seafarer

Jim Norton, The Seafarer

David Pittu, Is He Dead?

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll

Mary McCormack, Boeing-Boeing

Laurie Metcalf, November

Martha Plimpton, Top Girls

Rondi Reed, August: Osage County

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange

Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Robin De Jesus, In The Heights

Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

Boyd Gaines, Gypsy

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange

Laura Benanti, Gypsy

Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

Olga Merediz, In The Heights

Loretta Ables Sayre, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps

Scott Pask, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Todd Rosenthal, August: Osage County

Anthony Ward, Macbeth

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

David Farley and Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network, Sunday in the Park with George

Anna Louizos, In The Heights

Robin Wagner, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

Michael Yeargan, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Costume Design of a Play

Gregory Gale, Cyrano de Bergerac

Rob Howell, Boeing-Boeing

Katrina Lindsay, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Peter McKintosh, The 39 Steps

Best Costume Design of a Musical

David Farley, Sunday in the Park with George

Martin Pakledinaz, Gypsy

Paul Tazewell, In The Heights

Catherine Zuber, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Kevin Adams, The 39 Steps

Howard Harrison, Macbeth

Donald Holder, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Ann G. Wrightson, August: Osage County

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Ken Billington, Sunday in the Park with George

Howell Binkley, In The Heights

Donald Holder, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Natasha Katz, The Little Mermaid

Best Sound Design of a Play

Simon Baker, Boeing-Boeing

Adam Cork, Macbeth

Ian Dickinson, Rock 'n' Roll

Mic Pool, The 39 Steps

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Acme Sound Partners, In The Heights

Sebastian Frost, Sunday in the Park with George

Scott Lehrer, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Dan Moses Schreier, Gypsy

Best Direction of a Play

Maria Aitken, The 39 Steps

Conor McPherson, The Seafarer

Anna D. Shapiro, August: Osage County

Matthew Warchus, Boeing-Boeing

Best Direction of a Musical

Sam Buntrock, Sunday in the Park with George

Thomas Kail, In The Heights

Arthur Laurents, Gypsy

Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, Cry-Baby

Andy Blankenbuehler, In The Heights

Christopher Gattelli, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Dan Knechtges, Xanadu

Best Orchestrations

Jason Carr, Sunday in the Park with George

Alex Lacamoire & Bill Sherman, In The Heights

Stew & Heidi Rodewald, Passing Strange

Jonathan Tunick, A Catered Affair

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