Two old plays, one of which was produced off-Broadway more than 20 years ago, were nominated Monday for Tony Awards as the best plays of the lackluster 1985-86 Broadway season. CBS will broadcast the Tony Awards show June 1.
"Blood Knot," by Athol Fugard, originally produced in South Africa 25 years ago and Off Broadway in 1964, and John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves," first produced Off Broadway in 1971, will compete for best play against Michael Frayn's "Benefactors" and "I'm Not Rappaport" by Herb Gardner.
Plays are eligible for a best-play nomination if they have never been produced on Broadway. At a stormy meeting last week, the Tony Awards administration committee allowed "Blood Knot" and "The House of Blue Leaves" to compete as best play rather than in the revival category.
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood," a musical version of Charles Dickens' unfinished last novel, received the most nominations--11, including best musical. It will compete against "Big Deal," "Song & Dance" and "Tango Argentino."
"Tango Argentino," a surprise success of the 1985-86 season, also scored with a collective best choreography nomination for its tango dancers, and a direction nomination for Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli. Their competition: Bob Fosse, "Big Deal"; Wilford Leach, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"; and Richard Maltby Jr., "Song & Dance."
Hume Cronyn and his wife, Jessica Tandy, were nominated in the top acting categories for their portrayals of an aging British general and his wife in "The Petition." Cronyn's competition for best actor includes Ed Harris, "Precious Sons"; Judd Hirsch, "I'm Not Rappaport"; and Jack Lemmon in the controversial revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night."
Tandy will compete for the best actress award against Rosemary Harris, "Hay Fever"; Mary Beth Hurt, "Benefactors"; and Lily Tomlin in "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."
George Rose, the ebullient master of ceremonies in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," leads the best actor in a musical category and will go against Don Correia, "Singin' in the Rain"; Cleavant Derricks, "Big Deal"; and Maurice Hines, "Uptown . . . It's Hot!"
One of "Drood's" leading ladies, Cleo Laine, was nominated as best actress in a musical. Also in that category are Bernadette Peters, "Song & Dance"; Debbie Allen, "Sweet Charity"; and Chita Rivera, "Jerry's Girls."
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" also received multiple nominations in the featured actor and actress categories. Howard McGillin and John Herrera will compete against dancer Christopher d'Amboise of "Song & Dance" and Michael Rupert, the shy accountant in "Sweet Charity."
Patti Cohenour and Jana Schneider of "Drood" go against Bebe Neuwirth of "Sweet Charity" and Elisabeth Welch of the short-lived "Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood."
Swoosie Kurtz and Stockard Channing of "The House of Blue Leaves" received nominations as featured actress in a play. They compete with Bethel Leslie of "Long Day's Journey into Night" and Zoe Wanamaker of "Loot."
Two of Wanamaker's co-stars in "Loot"--Charles Keating and Joseph Maher--were nominated as featured actor in a play. Others nominated in that category include Peter Gallagher, "Long Day's Journey Into Night," and John Mahoney, "The House of Blue Leaves."
Directors of the two Eugene O'Neill revivals--Jose Quintero of "The Iceman Cometh" and Jonathan Miller of "Long Day's Journey Into Night"--compete for the best director play award with Jerry Zaks, "The House of Blue Leaves," and John Tillinger, "Loot."
Several shows that expired quickly received nominations, including "Wind in the Willows," for book of a musical and score; and "The News," for best score. Also nominated for score: Rupert Holmes, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Richard Maltby Jr., "Song & Dance."
In the revival category, the nominees include "Hay Fever," "The Iceman Cometh," "Loot" and "Sweet Charity."