Ironically, it was The Life, a singin' and dancin' paean to the sleaze of old-time Times Square that captured the most nods--12--in a near record-grossing season filled with homegrown stage spectacles.
With only four weeks remaining in the season--and counting the projected "Tony bump" that usually goads more fans into theaters--total receipts could reach $490 million. Attendance should top 10 million, an increase of five percent over last year and second only to the 1980-81 season's 11 million attendees.
As opposed to years past, when Broadway relied heavily on Andrew Lloyd Webber-esque British imports to fill theaters, it was American musicals, several of which opened in the last two months, that have recently dominated the Seventh Avenue scene.
Some of the biggest new productions will be battling for the most coveted Tony, Best Musical, along with The Life. Steel Pier--a dance-a-thon set in 1930s Atlantic City--tallied 11 nods, including top musical. Rounding out the category are Titanic and Juan Darien. The revival of Chicago, the season's biggest hit, received eight nominations, including Best Actress in a Musical for its star, Bebe Neuwirth.
There were some notable snubs in the top musical category, including Jekyll & Hyde and two March newcomers, Dream and Play On!
If you prefer your theater straight, sans soundtrack, four productions are dueling for best play: The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry, The Young Man from Atlanta by Horton Foote, Skylight by David Hare and Stanley by Pam Gems.
Among the actors and actresses nominated: Brian Bedford for London Assurance, Christopher Plummer for Barrymore and five-time Tony winner Julie Harris for The Gin Game.
Rosie O'Donnell will host the three-hour show June 1 at Radio City Music Hall. In an unusual arrangement, the first hour of technical awards will be on PBS and the final two hours of glamour categories will be on CBS.
The nominations are chosen by a committee of theater professionals. The winners will be chosen by a vote of theater folk and journalists.
Here is the list of all the nominees:
Play: Skylight, Stanley, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, The Young Man from Atlanta
Musical: Juan Darien, a Carnival Mass, Steel Pier, The Life, Titanic
Book of a Musical: Jekyll & Hyde, Steel Pier, The Life, Titanic
Original Score: Juan Darien, a Carnival Mass, Steel Pier, The Life, Titanic
Revival of a Play: A Doll's House, London Assurance, Present Laughter, The Gin Game
Revival of a Musical: Annie, Candide, Chicago, Once Upon a Mattress
Leading Actor in a Play: Brian Bedford, London Assurance; Michael Gambon, Skylight; Christopher Plummer, Barrymore; Antony Sher, Stanley
Leading Actress in a Play: Julie Harris, The Gin Game; Shirley Knight, The Young Man from Atlanta; Janet McTeer, A Doll's House; Lia Williams, Skylight
Leading Actor in a Musical: Robert Cuccioli, Jekyll & Hyde; Jim Dale, Candide; Daniel McDonald, Steel Pier; James Naughton, Chicago
Leading Actress in a Musical: Pamela Isaacs, The Life; Bebe Neuwirth, Chicago; Tonya Pinkins, Play On!; Karen Ziemba, Steel Pier
Featured Actor in a Play: Terry Beaver, The Last Night of Ballyhoo; William Biff McGuire, The Young Man from Atlanta; Brian Murray, The Little Foxes; Owen Teale, A Doll's House
Featured Actress in a Play: Helen Carey, London Assurance; Dana Ivey, The Last Night of Ballyhoo; Lynne Thigpen, An American Daughter; Celia Weston, The Last Night of Ballyhoo
Featured Actor in a Musical: Joel Blum, Steel Pier; Chuck Cooper, The Life; Andre De Shields, Play On!; Sam Harris, The Life
Featured Actress in a Musical: Marcia Lewis, Chicago; Andrea Martin, Candide; Debra Monk, Steel Pier; Lillias White, The Life
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty, The Little Foxes; Stewart Laing, Titanic; G. W. Mercier and Julie Taymor, Juan Darien, a Carnival Mass; Tony Walton, Steel Pier
Costume Design: Ann Curtis, Jekyll & Hyde; Judith Dolan, Candide; William Ivey Long, Chicago; Martin Pakledinaz, The Life
Lighting Design: Ken Billington, Chicago; Beverly Emmons, Jekyll & Hyde; Donald Holder, Juan Darien, a Carnival Mass; Richard Pilbrow, The Life
Choreography: Wayne Cilento, Dream; Joey McKneely, The Life; Ann Reinking, Chicago; Susan Stroman Steel Pier
Direction of a Play: John Caird, Stanley; Richard Eyre, Skylight; Anthony Page, A Doll's House; Charles Nelson Reilly, The Gin Game
Direction of a Musical: Michael Blakemore, The Life; Walter Bobbie, Chicago; Scott Ellis, Steel Pier; Julie Taymor, Juan Darien, a Carnival Mass
Orchestrations: Michael Gibson, Steel Pier; Luther Henderson, Play On!; Don Sebesky and Harold Wheeler, The Life; Jonathan Tunick Titanic.