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'Hairspray' & 'Nine' Top OCC List

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"Hairspray" and "Nine" are the favorites of the Outer Critics Circle, grabbing a total of 12 nominations each for the group's 53rd annual awards. The OCC is composed of over 75 critics and writers who cover New York theatre for out-of-town and national publications. The nominations were announced on April 21. The list of winners will be made public on May 5 and the awards will be presented in a ceremony at Sardi's Restaurant on May 29.

Among straight plays, "Enchanted April," which is still in previews, got the most nods with nine. Unlike the Tonys, the OCC Awards divide their Outstanding Play and Musical categories between Broadway and Off-Broadway fare. All their other categories consider on and Off-Broadway together. Because their nominations come out weeks before those for the Tonys, OCC nominees often include productions that are still in previews. The only Broadway offerings not included were the highly anticipated, all-star revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and Bill Maher's one-man comedy act "Victory Begins at Home," since they haven't begun previews yet. The producers of "Salome," which has started previews for an April 30 opening, have asked not to be considered for any awards since the show is a staged reading. "Long Day's Journey" and Bill Maher's show will be eligible next season.

"Gypsy," another show still in previews, received only two nominations (for Musical Revival and Direction of a Musical). According to the New York Post, director Sam Mendes met with the Nominating Committee after they saw the revival last week and asked them to take into consideration the fact that the show was still going through changes. Bernadette Peters, "Gypsy" 's high-profile star, failed to receive a citation. Also noticeable by her absence is Fiona Shaw, the leading actress in the well-reviewed Dublin production of "Medea," which transferred to Broadway from a short run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

In another odd choice, Chita Rivera was nominated as Actress in a Musical for her turn as the flamboyant French producer/ex-showgirl in "Nine." Liliane Montevecchi won a Tony and Drama Desk Award as a featured actress for the same role in the original 1982 production. Rumors are rife that the producers of "Nine" are submitting Rivera as a leading actress for the Tonys so that she will not have to compete with fellow female cast members in the featured category. The OCC nominated "Nine" 's Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Beth Peil as featured musical actresses.

The 2002-03 OCC Executive and Nominating Committee consists of Marjorie Gunner (New York Voice, Italian Tribune) (President), Mario Fratti (American Oggi, New Jersey Voice), Glenn Loney (Modern Theatre Online, New York Theatre Wire), Patrick Hoffman (Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, New York Public Library), Louis A. Rachow (International Theatre Institute), Irene Backalenick (Back Stage, Brooks Community Newspapers), Aubrey Reuben (Temas, Playbill), and Simon Saltzman (U.S. 1 Newspaper, Princeton, N.J.).

Fratti is credited with adapting and translating the screenplay of Federico Fellini's "8fi," upon which "Nine" is based. He brought the project to Tommy Tune, director of the original production. Arthur Kopit later replaced Fratti as author of the book. Fratti abstained from all musical categories in which "Nine" would be eligible.

A complete list of nominees follows:

Broadway Play: "Enchanted April"; "The Play What I Wrote"; "Take Me Out"; "Vincent in Brixton."

Broadway Musical: "Amour"; "Hairspray"; "Movin' Out"; "Urban Cowboy."

Off-Broadway Play: "The Exonerated"; "Kimberly Akimbo"; "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme"; "Talking Heads."

Off-Broadway Musical: "Avenue Q"; "Hank Williams: Lost Highway"; "A Man of No Importance"; "Radiant Baby"; "Zanna, Don't!"

Revival (Play): "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg"; "Dinner at Eight"; "Our Town"; "Tartuffe."

Revival (Musical): "La Bohème"; "Gypsy"; "Man of La Mancha"; "Nine."

Actor (Play): Brian Bedford ("Tartuffe"); Jochum ten Haaf ("Vincent in Brixton"); Eddie Izzard ("A Day in the Death of Joe Egg"); Howard W. Overshown ("Yellowman"); Daniel Sunjata ("Take Me Out").

Actress (Play): Jayne Atkinson ("Enchanted April"); Marylouise Burke ("Kimberly Akimbo"); Christine Ebersole ("Dinner at Eight"); Victoria Hamilton ("A Day in the Death of Joe Egg"); Clare Higgins ("Vincent in Brixton").

Actor (Musical): Antonio Banderas ("Nine"); Harvey Fierstein ("Hairspray"); Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Man of La Mancha"); Jason Petty ("Hank Williams: Lost Highway"); Roger Rees ("A Man of No Importance").

Actress (Musical): Jenn Colella ("Urban Cowboy"); Melissa Errico ("Amour"); Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ("Man of La Mancha"); Chita Rivera ("Nine"); Marissa Jaret Winokur ("Hairspray").

Featured Actor (Play): Walter Bobbie ("Polish Joke"); Michael Cumpsty ("Enchanted April"); Daniel Gerroll ("Enchanted April"); Denis O'Hare ("Take Me Out"); B.D. Wong ("Shanghai Moon").

Featured Actress (Play): Linda Emond ("Life (x) 3"); Kathryn Meisle ("Tartuffe"); Marian Seldes ("Dinner at Eight"); Emily Skinner ("Dinner at Eight"); J. Smith-Cameron ("Tartuffe").

Featured Actor (Musical): Randall Duk Kim ("Flower Drum Song"); Dick Latessa ("Hairspray"); Matthew Morrison ("Hairspray"); Steven Pasquale ("A Man of No Importance"); Corey Reynolds ("Hairspray").

Featured Actress (Musical): Laura Benanti ("Nine"); Kerry Butler ("Hairspray"); Jane Krakowski ("Nine"); Mary Stuart Masterson ("Nine"); Mary Beth Peil ("Nine").

Direction (Play): Michael Engler ("Talking Heads"); Gerald Gutierrez ("Dinner at Eight"); Joe Mantello ("Take Me Out"); Michael Wilson ("Enchanted April").

Direction (Musical): David Leveaux ("Nine"); Baz Luhrmann ("La Bohème"); Sam Mendes ("Gypsy"); Randal Myler ("Hank Williams: Lost Highway"); Jack O'Brien ("Hairspray").

Choreography: Jonathan Butterell ("Nine"); Robert Longbottom ("Flower Drum Song"); Jerry Mitchell ("Hairspray"); Twyla Tharp ("Movin' Out").

Set Design: John Lee Beatty ("Dinner at Eight"); Catherine Martin ("La Bohème"); Scott Pask ("Nine"); David Rockwell ("Hairspray"); Tony Straiges ("Enchanted April").

Costume Design: Jess Goldstein ("Enchanted April"); William Ivey Long ("Hairspray"); Catherine Martin, Angus Strathie ("La Bohème"); Vicki Mortimer ("Nine"); Catherine Zuber ("Dinner at Eight").

Lighting Design: Paul Gallo ("Man of La Mancha"); Nigel Levings ("La Bohème"); Brian MacDevitt ("Nine"); Kenneth Posner ("Hairspray"); Rui Rita ("Enchanted April").

Solo Performance: Tovah Feldshuh ("Golda's Balcony"); Frank Gorshin ("Say Goodnight Gracie"); Kate Mulgrew ("Tea at Five"); Louis Mustillo ("Bartenders"); Charlayne Woodard ("In Real Life").

John Gassner Award (for a new American play, preferably by a new playwright): Matthew Barber ("Enchanted April"); Stephen Adly Guirgis ("Our Lady of 121st Street"); Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank ("The Exonerated"); Dael Orlandersmith ("Yellowman").

Special Achievement Award: The cast of "Talking Heads" (Outstanding Ensemble Performance).

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