Outer Critics Circle Nominations Announced

With the April 14 announcement of the Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations, the theatre season moves headlong into the final homestretch, with the sell-out Broadway revival of "Oklahoma!" the only double-digit potential winner, landing 10.

Because their deadline traditionally falls two weeks or more before that of the Tony Awards, the Outer Critics Circle nominations usually include any number of still-previewing Broadway productions. This year is no exception: "Thoroughly Modern Millie," which opens April 18, received eight nominations, the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Paul Osborn's "Morning's at Seven" received six, and "Into the Woods," the highly anticipated remounting of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, received four.

"The Man Who Had All The Luck," "Private Lives," and "The Mystery of Charles Dickens" have set opening dates after the deadline, and will be considered for next year's nominations.

From a purely box office point of view, one of the biggest hits of the season—the musical "Mamma Mia!"—received only two nominations, one for Outstanding Broadway Musical and one for Louise Pitre for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. And one of the musicals considered to be a strong favorite in various categories for the Tony Awards—"Urinetown," whose move from the downtown Fringe Festival to Off-Broadway to Broadway is a Great White Way fairytale—received six nominations.

The nomination list also reveals some definite losers. In the Outstanding Solo Performance category, Elaine Stritch, as expected, received a nod for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty," but Bea Arthur, whose "Bea Arthur on Broadway" opened to warm, if not rapturous reviews and did badly at the box office before shuttering April 4, was snubbed. Instead, nominations went to Kevin Bacon for the Roundabout production of "An Almost Holy Picture," John Leguizamo for "Sexaholix," and, in a surprise, Charles Nelson Reilly for "Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly," which ran at Irish Rep early in the season.

"The Graduate," which now holds the record for having the highest box office advance for any play in Broadway history—yet has been almost universally lambasted by the critics—was snubbed as well. Similarly, Norbert Leo Butz received a nomination for his work in the musical "Thou Shalt Not"—which critics also loathed—but ignored his much praised work in "The Last 5 Years." That show received a single nomination, for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical.

In other nominee anomalies, Alan Bates is up for Outstanding Actor in a Play for "Fortune's Fool" but co-star Frank Langella, whose name is equal to Bates' on the marquee, is up for Featured Actor. And there are no nominations for Billy Crudup, Rupert Graves, or Kate Burton for "The Elephant Man," yet Burton received one for "Hedda Gabler."

While the Tony Award nominators recently said that "QED," the Peter Parnell play starring Alan Alda currently running at the Vivian Beaumont, would be eligible for a Best Play nomination, the Outer Critics disagree: The play didn't receive a single nomination. Neither did Barbara Cook, whose "Mostly Sondheim" received critical love letters after opening in January and which returns to the boards June 23.

The winners will be announced on Mon., April 29, with the awards ceremony held Thurs., May 23 at Sardi's. Composed of 75 non-New York-based critics and writers, the Outer Critics Circle, like the Drama Desk Awards, are seen as unofficial gauges of the Tony Awards. Unlike the Drama Desk Awards, which forces Broadway and Off-Broadway shows to compete against each other, the Outer Critics Circle distinguishes between them.

This year, the Outer Critics has already bestowed one honor: a Special Achievement award to Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright of Suzan-Lori Parks' "Topdog/Underdog." The play transferred to Broadway last week from the Public Theater to superlative reviews and also won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

A complete list of nominations follows:

Outstanding Broadway Play: "Fortune's Fool," "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?," "Metamorphoses," "Topdog/Underdog."

Outstanding Broadway Musical: "Mamma Mia!," "Sweet Smell of Success," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Urinetown."

Outstanding Off-Broadway Play: "The Dazzle," "Franz Kafka's The Castle," "The Matchmaker," "36 Views."

Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical: "The Last 5 Years," "The Spitfire Grill," "Summer of '42," "tick, tick…Boom!"

Outstanding Revival of a Play: "The Crucible," "The Elephant Man," "Morning's at Seven," "Noises Off."

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: "Into the Woods," "Oklahoma!"

Outstanding Director of a Play: Jeremy Sams ("Noises Off"), Scott Schwartz ("Franz Kafka's The Castle"), Daniel Sullivan ("Morning's at Seven"), George C. Wolfe ("Topdog/Underdog"), Mary Zimmerman ("Metamorphoses").

Outstanding Director of a Musical: James Lapine ("Into the Woods"), Michael Mayer ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), Trevor Nunn ("Oklahoma!"), John Rando ("Urinetown").

Outstanding Choreography: Rob Ashford ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), John Carrafa ("Urinetown"), Susan Stroman ("Oklahoma!"), Christopher Wheeldon ("Sweet Smell of Success").

Outstanding Set Design: John Lee Beatty ("Morning's at Seven"), Allen Moyer ("The Dazzle"), Douglas Stein ("36 Views"), Anthony Ward ("Oklahoma!").

Outstanding Costume Design: Santo Loquasto ("The Elephant Man"), Isaac Mizrahi ("The Women"), Martin Pakledinaz ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), Anthony Ward ("Oklahoma!").

Outstanding Lighting Design: David Hersey ("Oklahoma!"), Donald Holder ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), James F. Ingalls ("The Elephant Man"), David Weiner ("36 Views").

Outstanding Actor in a Play: Alan Bates ("Fortune's Fool"), Ian McKellen ("Dance of Death"), Liam Neeson ("The Crucible"), Bill Pullman ("The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?").

Outstanding Actress in a Play: Kate Burton ("Hedda Gabler"), Laura Linney ("The Crucible"), Helen Mirren ("Dance of Death"), Mercedes Ruehl ("The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?").

Outstanding Actor in a Musical: John Cullum ("Urinetown"), Brian d'Arcy James ("Sweet Smell of Success"), Hunter Foster ("Urinetown"), John Lithgow ("Sweet Smell of Success").

Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Sutton Foster ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), Josefina Gabrielle ("Oklahoma!"), Kerry O'Malley ("Into the Woods"), Louise Pitre ("Mamma Mia!").

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play: Frank Langella ("Fortune's Fool"), Joseph McKenna ("The Golem"), Stephen Tobolowsky ("Morning's at Seven"), David Warner ("Major Barbara").

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Katie Finneran ("Noises Off"), Elizabeth Franz ("Morning's at Seven"), Julie Hagerty ("Morning's at Seven"), Dana Ivey ("Major Barbara").

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz ("Thou Shalt Not"), Justin Bohon ("Oklahoma!"), Shuler Hensley ("Oklahoma!"), Marc Kudisch ("Thoroughly Modern Millie").

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Laura Benanti ("Into the Woods"), Angela Christian ("Thoroughly Modern Millie"), Spencer Kayden ("Urinetown"), Andrea Martin ("Oklahoma!").

Outstanding Solo Performance: Kevin Bacon ("An Almost Holy Picture"), John Leguizamo ("Sexaholix"), Charles Nelson Reilly ("Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly"), Elaine Stritch ("Elaine Stritch: At Liberty").

John Gassner Award: Rebecca Gilman ("The Glory of Living"), Richard Greenberg ("The Dazzle"), Naomi Iizuka ("36 Views"), Suzan-Lori Parks ("Topdog/Underdog").

Special Achievement Award: Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright ("Topdog/Underdog").