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'Drowsy' leads Tony nominations, big names snubbed

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) ''The Drowsy Chaperone,'' a parody of 1920s musicals, swept the board with 13 Tony Award nominations today while big names such as Julia Roberts and Disney were shut out of Broadway's biggest honors.

Alan Bennett's ''The History Boys'' was confirmed as favorite for best new play with seven nominations.

The nominations for the US theater version of the Oscars went largely as predicted by critics, though Oprah Winfrey's ''The Color Purple,'' based on the Alice Walker novel, made a surprisingly strong showing with 11 nominations.

Its tally of 11 was more than the eight nominations for the critically-acclaimed ''Jersey Boys,'' a jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, which is considered joint favorite with ''The Drowsy Chaperone'' to win best musical.

''The Wedding Singer,'' a 1980s romp adapted from the Adam Sandler movie, was the fourth nomination for best new musical, and picked up a total of five nominations.

''The Pajama Game'' led the list of revivals with nine nominations, including one for its star, Harry Connick Jr.

The revival of Clifford Odets' ''Awake and Sing'' gained eight nominations, including best revival of a play and three featured actor nominations for members of its ensemble cast -- Zoe Wanamaker, Mark Ruffalo and Pablo Schreiber.

The biggest star of the season on Broadway, Oscar-winner Julia Roberts, was not among those nominated as best actress in a play.

Her Broadway debut was panned by critics but in a year with few outstanding female performances there was speculation she could make the grade, particularly if organizers had hoped to tempt her to be a presenter at the ceremony on June 11.

The nominees for best actress in a play were ''Sex and the City'' star Cynthia Nixon for her role in ''Rabbit Hole,'' Kate Burton and Lynn Redgrave in the period comedy ''The Constant Wife,'' Judy Kaye in ''Souvenir'' and Lisa Kron in ''Well.'' The nominations for best play were ''The History Boys,'' Martin McDonagh's ''The Lieutenant of Inishmore,'' which took five nominations, ''Rabbit Hole'' and ''Shining City,'' whose star Oliver Platt was nominated for best actor.

Up for best actor along with Platt are Ralph Fiennes for ''Faith Healer,'' Richard Griffiths for ''The History Boys,'' Zeljko Ivanek for ''The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,'' and David Wilmot for ''The Lieutenant of Inishmore.'' Among the biggest losers were two of the biggest investors of the season Hollywood studio giants Disney and Warner Bros., whose musicals ''Tarzan'' and ''Lestat'' were snubbed.

''Tarzan,'' based on the Disney movie with music by Phil Collins, picked up just one nomination, for best lighting design, while the vampire musical ''Lestat'' with music by Elton John won two nominations, for best costumes and best supporting actress, Carolee Carmello.

''It shows the integrity of the Tony Award nomination process,'' said New York Post drama writer Michael Riedel.

''They chose not to give a nomination to the biggest star in the world (Roberts), and they really stuck it to the most powerful producer on Broadway, Disney, by giving only one nomination for lighting, which is really almost insulting.'' REUTERS SY BD2259

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