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'9 to 5,' 'Shrek' and 'Billy Elliot' lead Drama Desk Awards nominations

April 27, 2009 |  5:06 pm

"9 to 5" — the Broadway musical adaptation of the hit 1980 film — was largely snubbed by the Outer Critics Circle's nominations last week, but the tale of three secretaries' revenge against a tyrannical boss struck back at the Drama Desk Awards. "9 to 5" led with the most nominations (15) when contenders were unveiled today, followed by "Shrek the Musical" (12) and "Billy Elliot" and "Hair" (10 each).

Drama desk nominations

"Ruined" — which just won the Pulitzer Prize — leads with the most Drama Desk Award bids among plays (six), but it won't be among the Tony Award nominees to be announced next Tuesday, May 5, because it's produced off-Broadway. Meantime, the Broadway show widely considered to be the front-runner to win best play at the Tonys — "God of Carnage"  — wasn't nominated by Drama Desk. In fact, only one Broadway play made the list of six shows up for best play: "reasons to be pretty." That virtually assures its victory.

"Next to Normal" and "[title of show]" are considered strong contenders in the Tonys' races for best musical and play, respectively, but they're excluded from the Drama Desk list because they premiered off-Broadway last season. Horton Foote's "Dividing the Estate" also wasn't eligible.

Another likely Tony nominee — the lead stars of "Billy Elliot" — aren't up for best actor in a musical because of a dispute. At the Tonys, all three boys who alternate in the lead role are being lumped together into one likely nomination. Members of the Drama Desk nominating committee refused to do the same because they weren't given press tickets to see more than one Billy performance each.

Surprising snubs from the Drama Desk list include August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," which is a major contender for acting honors and best revival at the Tonys thanks to ecstatic reviews from critics. "Rock of Ages" could rally at the Tony noms in the race for best musical and "Irena's Vow" and "33 Variations" in the battle over best play.

Among snubbed performances that could rebound at the Tonys: Harriet Walter ("Mary Stuart"), Dianne Wiest ("All My Sons"), Tovah Feldshuh ("Irena's Vow"), Kristin Scott Thomas ("The Seagull"), Robert Spencer ("Next to Normal"), James Barbour ("Tale of Two Cities").

Since the Drama Desk nominations were unveiled a few hours ago, there's been widespread criticism across the Internet over nominations for "Story of My Life" and "Fela!" as best musical and "Pal Joey" as best musical revival.

Below, the contenders. Winners will be announced on May 17 at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan during a ceremony hosted by "Harvey Fiersten," according to the Drama Desk website, but really it'll be Harvey Fierstein.

BEST PLAY
Annie Baker, "Body Awareness"
Gina Gionfriddo, "Becky Shaw"
Neil LaBute, "reasons to be pretty"
Lynn Nottage, "Ruined"
Michael Weller, "Fifty Words"
Craig Wright, "Lady"

BEST MUSICAL
"9 to 5"
"Billy Elliot The Musical"
"Fela!"
"Liza's at the Palace . . . "
"Shrek the Musical"
"The Story of My Life"

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
"Blithe Spirit"
"Exit the King"
"Mary Stuart"
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Norman Conquests"
"Waiting for Godot"

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
"Enter Laughing, the Musical"
"Hair"
"Pal Joey"
"West Side Story"

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
Simon Russell Beale, "The Winter's Tale"
Reed Birney, "Blasted"
Raúl Esparza, "Speed-the-Plow"
Bill Irwin, "Waiting for Godot"
Daniel Radcliffe, "Equus"
Geoffrey Rush, "Exit the King"
Thomas Sadoski, "reasons to be pretty"

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Saidah Arrika Ekulona, "Ruined"
Jane Fonda, "33 Variations"
Marcia Gay Harden, "God of Carnage"
Elizabeth Marvel, "Fifty Words"
Jan Maxwell, "Scenes From an Execution"
Janet McTeer, "Mary Stuart"

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
James Barbour, "A Tale of Two Cities"
Daniel Breaker, "Shrek the Musical"
Brian d'Arcy James, "Shrek the Musical"
Josh Grisetti, "Enter Laughing the Musical"
Sahr Ngaujah, "Fela!"
Will Swenson, "Hair"

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Stephanie J. Block, "9 to 5"
Stockard Channing, "Pal Joey"
Sutton Foster, "Shrek the Musical"
Megan Hilty, "9 to 5"
Allison Janney, "9 to 5"
Karen Murphy, "My Vaudeville Man!"

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Brian d'Arcy James, "Port Authority"
Jeremy Davidson, "Back Back Back"
Peter Friedman, "Body Awareness"
Ethan Hawke, "The Winter's Tale"
Pablo Schreiber, "reasons to be pretty (off-Broadway)"
Jeremy Shamos, "Animals Out of Paper"

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Rebecca Hall, "The Cherry Orchard"
Zoe Kazan, "The Seagull"
Angela Lansbury, "Blithe Spirit"
Andrea Martin, "Exit the King"
Carey Mulligan, "The Seagull"
Condola Rashad, "Ruined"

BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Hunter Foster, "Happiness"
Demond Green, "The Toxic Avenger"
Gregory Jbara, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Marc Kudisch, "9 to 5"
Bryce Ryness, "Hair"
Christopher Sieber, "Shrek the Musical"

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Farah Alvin, "The Marvelous Wonderettes"
Christina Bianco, "Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab"
Haydn Gwynne, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Karen Olivo, "West Side Story"
Nancy Opel, "The Toxic Avenger"
Martha Plimpton, "Pal Joey"

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Sarah Benson, "Blasted"
Michael Blakemore, "Blithe Spirit"
Garry Hynes, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Terry Kinney, "reasons to be pretty"
Matthew Warchus, "The Norman Conquests"
Kate Whoriskey, "Ruined"

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Walter Bobbie, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Stephen Daldry, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Joe Mantello, "9 to 5"
Jason Moore, "Shrek the Musical"
Diane Paulus, "Hair"
Stuart Ross, "Enter Laughing the Musical"

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
Karole Armitage, "Hair"
Andy Blankenbuehler, "9 to 5"
Peter Darling, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Bill T. Jones, "Fela!"
Randy Skinner, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Shonn Wiley, "My Vaudeville Man!"

BEST MUSIC
Neil Bartram, "The Story of My Life"
Zina Goldrich, "Dear Edwina"
Elton John, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Dolly Parton, "9 to 5"
Stephen Sondheim, "Road Show"
Jeanine Tesori, "Shrek the Musical"

BEST LYRICS
Neil Bartram, "The Story of My Life"
Jason Robert Brown, "13"
Marcy Heisler, "Dear Edwina"
David Lindsay-Abaire, "Shrek the Musical"
Dolly Parton, "9 to 5"
Stephen Sondheim, "Road Show"

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis, "This Beautiful City"
Joe DiPietro, "The Toxic Avenger"
Lee Hall, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Brian Hill, "The Story of My Life"
David Lindsay-Abaire, "Shrek the Musical"
Patricia Resnick, "9 to 5"

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS
Larry Blank, "White Christmas"
Bruce Coughlin, "9 to 5"
Aaron Johnson and Antibalas, "Fela!"
Edward B. Kessel, "A Tale of Two Cities"
Martin Koch, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Danny Troob, "Shrek the Musical"

BEST MUSIC IN A PLAY
Mark Bennett, "The Cherry Orchard"
Mark Bennett, "The Winter's Tale"
Dominic Kanza, "Ruined"
DJ Rekha, "Rafta, "Rafta…"
Richard Woodbury, "Desire Under the Elms"
Gary Yershon, "The Norman Conquests"

BEST SET DESIGN OF A PLAY
Dale Ferguson, "Exit the King"
Rob Howell, "The Norman Conquests"
David Korins, "Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them"
Derek McLane, "33 Variations"
Neil Patel, "Fifty Words"
Walt Spangler, "Desire Under the Elms"

BEST SET DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, "Shrek The Musical"
Anna Louizos, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Thomas Lynch, "Happiness"
Scott Pask, "9 to 5"
Scott Pask, "Hair"
Basil Twist, "Arias With a Twist"

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Tim Hatley, "Shrek The Musical"
Rob Howell, "The Norman Conquests"
William Ivey Long, "9 to 5"
Michael McDonald, "Hair"
Martin Pakledinaz, "Blithe Spirit"
Carrie Robbins, "White Christmas"

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A PLAY
Marcus Doshi, "Hamlet (Theatre for a New Audience)"
David Hersey, "Equus"
Ben Kato, "Washing Machine"
R. Lee Kennedy, "Bury the Dead"
Paul Pyant, "The Winter's Tale"
Hugh Vanstone, "Mary Stuart"

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN IN A MUSICAL
Kevin Adams, "Hair"
Jules Fisher and Kenneth Posner, "9 to 5"
Rick Fisher, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Jason Lyons, "Clay"
Sinéad McKenna, "Improbable Frequency"
Richard Pilbrow, "A Tale of Two Cities"

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Acme Sound Partners, "Irving Berlin's White Christmas"
Paul Arditti, "Billy Elliot the Musical"
Gregory Clarke, "Equus"
John Gromada, "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)"
André J. Pluess, "33 Variations"
John H. Shivers, "9 to 5"

BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE
Mike Birbiglia, "Sleepwalk With Me"
Frank Blocker, "Southern Gothic Novel"
Michael Laurence, "Krapp, "39"
Lorenzo Pisoni, "Humor Abuse"
Matt Sax, "Clay"
Campbell Scott, "The Atheist"

UNIQUE THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE
"Absinthe (2008 Edition)"
"Arias With a Twist"
"Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words"
"Désir"
"Soul of Shaolin"
"Surrender"

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCES
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Norman Conquests"

Because of the ensemble honor, "individual cast members for these two shows were not eligible for acting awards in the competitive categories."

SPECIAL AWARDS
To Liza Minnelli, "a beloved American musical theater icon, for her enduring career of sustained excellence, and her glorious performance in 'Liza's at the Palace.'"

To "Forbidden Broadway" at the end of its nearly three-decade run and "the creators, "casts and designers who made it an unparalleled New York institution cherished for its satire and celebration of Broadway."

To Atlantic Theater Company and artistic director Neil Pepe for "exceptional craftsmanship, dedication to excellence and productions that engage, inspire and enlighten."
"
To TADA! Youth Theater for "providing an invaluable contribution to the future of the theater. The company makes best training and experience accessible and affordable to young people and mounts productions remarkable for their quality and professionalism."

RELATED POSTS:

'Ruined' wins Pulitzer Prize for drama

'Billy' vs. green goliath at Outer Critics Circle nominations

'Next to Normal' could be Broadway equivalent of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Will one of the queens in 'Mary Stuart' be crowned best actress at the Tony Awards?

Anne Hathaway surrounded by theater royalty in 'Twelfth Night'

Tony nominations to be announced on May 5

Inside track: Tony Awards' derby for best play

Tonys: '9 to 5' and 'Billy Elliot' battle to win best musical

Photos: Imperial, Marquis and Broadway Theatres

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