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‘Once’ the Musical Receives 11 Tony Award Nominations

Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti in ``Once'' in New York. The play is directed by John Tiffany. Photographer: Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

“Once,” a wistful $5.5 million Broadway musical about an Irish man, a Czech woman and their folk music collaboration, received 11 Tony Award nominations today in New York, the most of any show.

The $75 million “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” the most expensive show in Broadway history, was snubbed in every major category. It received two nominations, for set and costume design.

“Once” competes for best musical against “Newsies,” Walt Disney Co.’s buoyant account of the July 1899 strike of newspaper delivery boys; “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” a new comedy with Gershwin songs starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara; and “Leap of Faith.”

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” a prequel to “Peter Pan,” was the most nominated play, with nine. It faces off for best new play against “Clybourne Park,” “Other Desert Cities” and “Venus in Fur.”

“One Man, Two Guvnors,” a $3.3 million farce that originated at London’s National Theatre and won rave reviews on Broadway, was not nominated for best play. It was cited for its director, Nicholas Hytner, and actors James Corden and Tom Edden, who plays a hapless waiter.

Committee of 22

The nominations were decided by a committee of 22 theater-affiliated professionals. They were announced this morning at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

The winners of Broadway’s biggest prizes are determined by the votes of about 800 producers, actors, critics and theater-union members. The awards will be announced June 10 at the Beacon Theatre, in a ceremony broadcast by CBS.

Attendance for the season, which ends on May 27, is little changed from a year ago. Ticket revenue is up 7.4 percent to $1 billion, according to the Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers. Average seat prices are $92.44 this season, up from about $86.20 a year ago.

“Death of a Salesman,” a $3.6 million production of the 1949 Arthur Miller play, received seven nominations, including best revival as well as for lead actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, featured actor Andrew Garfield and its director, Mike Nichols. Its rivals are “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” and two Manhattan Theatre Club shows that have closed, “Master Class” and “Wit.”

“Evita,” “Follies,” “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” were nominated for best revival of a musical.

“Magic/Bird,” a new play about basketball stars Larry Bird and Magic Johnson that has struggled at the box office, received no nominations. Ditto for “Chinglish” and “The Mountaintop.” A revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” received one nod, for costume design.

Lead actor James Earl Jones, playing a former president, was nominated for “Best Man,” along with Frank Langella (“Man and Boy”) and John Lithgow (“The Columnist”). For actress in a leading role, Linda Lavin (“The Lyons”) competes against Nina Arianda (“Venus in Fur”), Tracie Bennett (“End of the Rainbow”), Stockard Channing (“Other Desert Cities”) and Cynthia Nixon (“Wit”).

Usual Snubs

Overlooked stars include Hugh Dancy, Samuel L. Jackson, Blair Underwood, Alan Rickman, John Larroquette, Angela Bassett, Tyne Daly, Rosemary Harris and Rachel Griffiths.

“Once,” an adaptation of a 2006 movie, was also nominated for actress Cristin Milioti, actor Steve Kazee, and for scenic, sound and lighting design, plus direction and choreography.

More than half the 112 nominations by category went to shows that originated at nonprofit theaters. Leading that group was the New York Theatre Workshop, whose productions of “Once” and “Peter and the Starcatcher” are among the most acclaimed shows of the season. (The score of “Once” was ruled ineligible for a nomination because most of the songs came from the film.)

The other best-score nominees were “Starcatcher” and “One Man, Two Guvnors,” both of which the Tony Awards classified as plays.

In a sign of what many regarded as a weak season for new musicals, just two musicals were nominated for best original score: “Newsies” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” Along with “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” and “Lysistrata Jones,” “Bonnie” closed within weeks of opening. Together, they lost more than $20 million for investors, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Box Office Rules

“Spider-Man,” despite little love by critics, has regularly sold more than $1 million in tickets each week. In contrast, “Ghost,” a $13 million Broadway production imported from London that was also snubbed in the best-musical category, took in just $668,000 last week.

Likewise, ‘Leap of Faith,” a $14.7 million show nine years in the making that received a single nomination, has struggled. Its producers have been selling prime orchestra tickets for as little as $49, discounted 81 percent from the $252 weekend “premium seat” price.

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