"The Drowsy Chaperone," a zany tribute to the rollicking musicals of the 1920s, received 13 Tony nominations Tuesday, including one for best musical, making it the surprise leader in the race for Broadway's top honors. The Oprah Winfrey-produced musical "The Color Purple," based on the Alice Walker novel, garnered 11 nods, and the revival of "The Pajama Game," starring pop and jazz singer Harry Connick Jr., followed with nine nominations.
"This is so very exciting because our musical came out of nowhere, it's original, and it's wonderful that people are thirsty for productions like this," said Kevin McCollum, one of the producers of "The Drowsy Chaperone," which had its U.S. premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in November.
"The Drowsy Chaperone" will face off with "Jersey Boys," another show that made its debut in Southern California. The musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in October 2004, received eight nominations, including best director.
La Jolla Playhouse's artistic director, Des McAnuff, was roused from sleep at 6:30 a.m. by his 15-year-old daughter, who saw the news online.
"It's a nice way to wake up," said McAnuff, who staged "Jersey Boys" and previously won Tonys for "Big River" and "Tommy."
Tuesday's announcement included several notable omissions, particularly among the Hollywood set: Julia Roberts' critically panned performance in Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain" was snubbed, as was David Schwimmer's turn in "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial." Producers of that show announced it will close May 21 after 17 performances. The revival of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick failed to get any nominations. Two heavily promoted Broadway musicals — "Tarzan," based on the Walt Disney animated feature, and "Lestat," a show based on the Anne Rice novels with songs by Elton John — received only three nods between them.
"Awake and Sing!," the well-received revival of Clifford Odet's play about an American family during the Depression, led the drama field with eight nominations, followed by "The History Boys," Alan Bennett's highly praised British drama about rowdy teenagers hoping to get into Oxford or Cambridge, which received seven nods.
"This was a great year on Broadway," said Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theatres and Producers, before the nominations were announced.
"Not only were grosses and attendance up, but early this spring we had 38 shows playing at the same time — something that has not happened in over two decades."
The nominees for the 60th annual Tony Awards, presented jointly by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers, were announced early Tuesday by Phylicia Rashad, Natasha Richardson and Liev Schreiber — all previous Tony winners — at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times