And The Tony Nominees Are...

MUsic Man Craig Bierko Tony Awards 2000
The Tony Awards prepared to honor the best of the Broadway season, as the nominees for this year's prizes were announced Monday in New York City.

The announcements were made at Broadway's famed Sardi's restaurant by Bebe Neuwirth and Kelsey Grammer.

Copenhagen, Michael Frayn's drama about the controversial meeting of two physicists on opposite sides during World War II, was nominated for best play. It will compete for the top prize against Dirty Blonde, Claudia Shear's warm-hearted biography of sex symbol Mae West; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Arthur Miller's examination of an unrepentant bigamist; and True West, Sam Shepard's savage comedy about two battling brothers.

Contact, three stories told through dance, was nominated for best musical along with James Joyce's The Dead, Swing! and The Wild Party.

The winners will be announced June 4 from Radio City Music Hall, with Rosie O'Donnell serving as host for the show. The program will air on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.

Before the announcement, Neuwirth and Grammer spoke with CBS News Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel. The veteran stage actors are best known for playing husband and wife psychiatrists Frasier and Lilith Crane in the TV show Cheers.

Neuwirth, who has won two Tonys, told Gumbel she prefers stage work to other kinds of acting.

Tony Awards Nominations
Click here to see the complete list of this year's nominees.

"I enjoy the dialogue that you have with the audience," Neuwirth said. "You give a performance and the audience receives the performance, and you can feel that. And I guess, also, because I've been doing it since I was a very little girl. It feels second nature to me and I feel very safe and very at home on the stage."

Next month Grammer starts an seven-week run Macbeth in New York, before returning to the set of his hit show Frasier.

"It's like being on a train," Grammer said of stage acting. "Once it starts, it's going to end whether or not you decide to stay on for the ride. That can be a difficult thing. Frankly, it's the most rewarding. We get off on it more than anything else, because it's highly personal -- the interaction between performer and audience."

Nominated fobest actor in a play were the two stars of True West, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly; Gabriel Byrne, who portrays a dissolute actor in A Moon for the Misbegotten; Stephan Dillane, the adulterous writer in The Real Thing; and David Suchet, who plays Mozart's rival in Amadeus.

A mother-daughter race was set up in the actress category with Rosemary Harris, who stars in Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings, going against her daughter, Jennifer Ehle, who is in The Real Thing. Also nominated were Claudia Shear, who portrays Mae West in Dirty Blonde; Cherry Jones, from A Moon for the Misbegotten; and Jayne Atkinson of The Rainmaker.

Newcomer Craig Bierko, the charming con man Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, was nominated for best actor in a musical. His competition: George Hearn, who appeared in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together; Christopher Walken of The Dead; Mandy Patinkin, who plays a jealous vaudeville performer in The Wild Party; and Brian Stokes Mitchell, who stars in the revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

Marin Mazzie, Mitchell's co-star in Kate, was nominated for best actress in a musical, along with Toni Collette of The Wild Party; Heather Headley, the title character in Disney's Aida; Rebecca Luker, Marian the librarian in The Music Man; and Audra McDonald, who appeared in Marie Christine, a retelling of the Medea legend set in New Orleans.

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