"Hairspray" continues spreading its sheen over the awards season on Broadway. The campy musical based on the John Waters film has added 13 Tony Award nominations to its honor-bedecked coiffure, the most of any show this year. In addition to a Best Musical nod, the nominations for "Hairspray" include actor in a musical (Harvey Fierstein), actress in a musical (Marissa Jaret Winokur), featured actor in a musical (Dick Latessa and Corey Reynolds), and score, book, orchestrations, choreography, and all the design categories.
The tuner has already won best musical from the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama League, and last week it received 14 nominations from the Drama Desk. Fierstein, meanwhile, who plays the female character Edna Turnblad, is the first male Tony nominee to be honored for portraying a member of the opposite sex. Previous drag nominees George Hearn ("La Cage aux Folles"), B.D. Wong ("M. Butterfly"), Wilson Jermaine Heredia ("Rent"), and Fierstein in his own play "Torch Song Trilogy," played cross-dressers. Mary Martin was the first female Tony nominee (and winner) to cross the gender line when she played the title character in "Peter Pan" in 1955.
John Lithgow (a two-time Tony winner for "The Changing Room" and "Sweet Smell of Success") and Melanie Griffith (soon to star on Broadway in "Chicago") announced the nominations at a Mon., May 12 early-morning press conference at Sardi's. The awards will be presented Sun., June 8, at Radio City Music Hall in a three-hour ceremony broadcast in its entirety by CBS. In recent years, PBS handled the awards' first hour, including the design, direction, and writing categories, with CBS presenting the final two hours, including performance and production citations.
"Movin' Out," the Billy Joel-Twyla Tharp dance musical, came in second in the nomination derby, with 10. The revival of "Nine," starring Griffith's husband Antonio Banderas, is third with eight nods. Among plays in general, the all-star production of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" won the race with seven nominations, including honors for each of its principal players (Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Dennehy, Robert Sean Leonard, Philip Seymour Hoffman). Among new plays, Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out" scored the highest hits with four nominations.
Another Tony-nominated production much in the news is the revival of "Gypsy." Bernadette Peters is up for Best Actress in a Musical for her starring turn as Mama Rose; last week, she missed six performances due to a respiratory illness that flared up shortly after the show opened to mostly positive reviews. This is Peters' seventh nomination, Chita Rivera's eighth (for "Nine"), and Brian Bedford's sixth ("Tartuffe").
Among this year's Tony oddities is a Best Play nomination for Rupert Holmes for "Say Goodnight, Gracie," the solo show starring Frank Gorshin as George Burns, though Gorshin himself wasn't nominated for his acting. There is also a Best Score nomination for the 30 songwriters of "Urban Cowboy," which combined new and previously recorded country-western material. In all, "Cowboy" lassoed two nominations—the other one is for Melanie Roy's choreography—but this recognition won't be enough to save the show from the final roundup: Hours after the Tony nominations were released, it was announced that "Cowboy" would be sent back to the stables May 18, a victim of mixed notices and poor box office.
The eligibility of the score of "Urban Cowboy" was an issue only resolved on Fri., May 9, when the Tony Awards administration committee met for the third time this season to hammer out rulings on a variety of issues. At the last meeting of the committee in late April, it ruled that because less than 50% of the show's score was written for the stage, it would not be eligible for a Best Original Score nomination. The producers subsequently submitted a petition to the committee along with evidence to the contrary, resulting the Best Score nod.
The committee also ruled that Al Pacino would not be eligible for a Tony nomination for "Salome: The Reading," having already played the same role of King Herod in a 1992 production of the Oscar Wilde play. The committee said that Marisa Tomei, as Salome, could be given a lead actress nod, and co-stars Dianne Wiest and David Strathairn were eligible as featured performers. In the end, however, the point was moot: The production received no nominations at all.
And in yet another ruling, the committee declared that "As Long As We Both Shall Laugh," Yakov Smirnoff's yuck-fest, would not be eligible for a nomination in the Special Theatrical Event category. Keith Sherman, the Tony Awards' press representative, told Back Stage that Smirnoff's show "must perform on a reasonably conventional playing schedule" to be a contender, and its twice-weekly performances fell short of the mark.
Finally, several special Tony Awards were announced. Cy Feuer, the great Broadway writer, director, and producer, will receive a special lifetime achievement award. Now 92, Feuer won his first Tony in 1951 for producing "Guys and Dolls." Tonys will also go to: the principal ensemble of "La Bohème" (10 actors playing the revolving casts of Mimi, Rudolfo, Musetta, and Marcello); Paul Huntley, the hair and wig designer; Johnson-Liff Casting Associates; and The Acting Company. The annual regional theatre Tony will go to The Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Minn.
The 2003 Tony Award Nominating Committee consists of Maureen Anderman (Tony nominee, "The Lady from Dubuque"), publisher Price Berkley, general manager Ira Bernstein, administrator Robert Callely, cultural executive Schuyler G. Chapin, managing director Veronica Claypool, theatre archivist Betty Corwin, composer Gretchen Cryer, press representative Merle Debuskey, managing director Edgar Dobie, actor David Marshall Grant (Tony nominee, "Angels in America: Perestroika"), composer/lyricist Micki Grant (Tony nominee, "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope"), casting director Julie Hughes, script consultant Betty Jacobs, general manager Robert Kamlot, playwright David Lindsay-Abaire ("Kimberly Akimbo," "Fuddy Meers"), producer-director Theodore Mann, agent Gilbert Parker, casting director Shirley Rich, journalist David Richards, photographer Aubrey Reuben, producer Arthur Rubin, arts executive Judith Rubin, press representative Bill Schelble, casting director Meg Simon, arts educator Sister Francesca Thompson, casting director Rosemarie Tischler, and producer Jon Wilner.
A complete list of the nominees follows: