‘La Cage,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Fela!’ Top Tony Nominations (Update2)

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Scarlett Johansson. Johansson is stared in Arthur Miller's play "A View From the Bridge," in a revival directed by Gregory Mosher.

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Photographer: Sebastian Mlynarski/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

Scarlett Johansson. Johansson is stared in Arthur Miller's play "A View From the Bridge," in a revival directed by Gregory Mosher. Close

Scarlett Johansson. Johansson is stared in Arthur Miller's play "A View From the Bridge," in a revival directed by Gregory Mosher.

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Denzel Washington on Broadway as a trash collector who once dreamed of playing pro baseball, in "Fences." The revival of the August Wilson drama, at the Cort Theatre, is staged by Kenny Leon. Close

Denzel Washington on Broadway as a trash collector who once dreamed of playing pro baseball, in "Fences." The revival... Read More

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Actors from left, Marin Mazzie, Stephen Kunken, Norbert Leo Butz and Gregory Itzin on Broadway in "Enron" in New York. The play, by Lucy Prebble, was staged by Rupert Goold. Close

Actors from left, Marin Mazzie, Stephen Kunken, Norbert Leo Butz and Gregory Itzin on Broadway in "Enron" in New... Read More

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Actors from left, Stark Sands, John Gallagher Jr. and Michael Esper play three young men on their coming-of-age journey in the Broadway musical, "American Idiot" in New York. The show, staged by Michael Mayer, is based on the Green Day album of the same name. Close

Actors from left, Stark Sands, John Gallagher Jr. and Michael Esper play three young men on their coming-of-age... Read More

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Kelsey Grammer, left, and Douglas Hodge play longtime lovers in "La Cage aux Folles" in New York. The musical revival is running at the Longacre Theatre. Close

Kelsey Grammer, left, and Douglas Hodge play longtime lovers in "La Cage aux Folles" in New York. The musical revival... Read More

“Fela!,” a Broadway musical about the Nigerian pop musician and activist Fela Kuti, and a downsized revival of “La Cage aux Folles” each earned 11 Tony Award nominations today.

“Fences,” a revival of the August Wilson drama starring Denzel Washington, received 10 nominations, the most for a play, followed closely by “Red” about the U.S. painter Mark Rothko with seven.

Although Washington, Jude Law, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Walken and Liev Schreiber were nominated, several of the season’s biggest stars were snubbed by the 27 Tony nominators. They included Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, who appeared in the fall in “A Steady Rain.”

Also overlooked were James Spader, appearing in David Mamet’s legal drama “Race,” which failed to win a nomination as best play.

A critically acclaimed revival of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” was ineligible for nominations because it didn’t run long enough to invite all of the Tony voters.

The number of stars nominated is a reminder that Broadway increasingly depends on them to sell tickets, said Emanuel Azenberg, who produced the Simon play.

“You can’t do a play anymore without an attraction that transcends the play,” he said. “That’s disturbing because it takes the ‘theater’ out of the theater. You have an audience for the wrong reason.”

‘Fela!’

“Fela!” was cited for best musical, book and nine other nominations. “Red,” by John Logan, received nods for best play, director Michael Grandage, actor Alfred Molina, featured actor Eddie Redmayne and three others.

“Fela!” will compete with “American Idiot,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Memphis” for the best-musical award.

For best play, “Red” will compete with “Next Fall,” “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play” and “Time Stands Still.”

In a season lacking a musical embraced by both critics and large audiences, the Tonys will be unusually competitive, said Scott Mallalieu, president of Group Sales Box Office.

No ‘Billy Elliot’

Mallalieu said the most competitive categories will be best musical and best performance by a featured actress in a musical, which includes Barbara Cook (“Sondheim on Sondheim”), Lansbury (”A Little Night Music”) and Katie Finnerman (”Promises, Promises”).

“That there wasn’t a breakout hit was a disappointment,” Mallalieu said. “The ‘Billy Elliot’ show didn’t exist, that you could sell to anyone.”

The Addams Family,” based on characters created by New Yorker magazine cartoonist Charles Addams, received two nominations, for score and featured actor Kevin Chamberlin. It didn’t make the cut for best musical, nor did either of its stars, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth.

Nominations were announced at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts by Jeff Daniels, star of last year’s best-play Tony winner “God of Carnage” and Lea Michelle, from television’s “Glee” and the 2006 musical “Spring Awakening.”

The 64th annual Antoinette Perry Awards will be broadcast June 13 on CBS from Radio City Musical Hall.

Broadway Sales

The Broadway season ends in three weeks. As of May 2, sales totaled $953.1 million, according to the Broadway League, up about 1 percent from this time a year ago. Attendance is off by 3 percent, as the average ticket price rose about $3 to $85.86. (Last season’s statistics exclude “Young Frankenstein,” which closed in January 2009. Its producers did not disclose sales.)

Nominations are made by a committee that includes actors, playwrights and arts administrators with three-year terms. The winners are chosen by 769 voters, including producers, theater union members and journalists.

The Tonys are a joint production of the Broadway League and the nonprofit American Theatre Wing.

To contact the writer on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

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