"Morning's at Seven," the gently nostalgic story of family squabbles, received nine nominations, with five of the nine going to either the featured actor or featured actress category.
Edward Albee's "The Goat;" "Fortune's Fool," an adaptation of a comedy by Ivan Turgenev; "Metamorphoses," taken from the classic myths of Ovid; and "Topdog/Underdog," Suzan-Lori Parks' Pulitzer-winning drama about sibling rivalry; were the nominees for best play.
Nominated as best musical were "Urinetown," where people have to pay to go to the bathroom; the ABBA-inspired "Mamma Mia!", and two musicals based on movies, "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and "Sweet Smell of Success," the story of a vicious New York gossip columnist.
In the revival-play category, the shows that will vie for the Tony will be Noel Coward's "Private Lives;" the British farce "Noises Off;" "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's take on the Salem witch trials; and "Morning's at Seven."
In the hotly contested best-actor category, the nominees were Alan Bates, "Fortune's Fool;" Billy Crudup as the physically deformed title character in "The Elephant Man;" Liam Neeson as a conflicted farmer in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible;" Alan Rickman in "Private Lives," and Jeffrey Wright in "Topdog/Underdog."
Kate Burton received two Tony nominations — one in the actress category and a second in featured-actress slot. She was nominated for playing "Hedda Gabler" in a revival of the Ibsen classic and for portraying a sympathetic English actress in "The Elephant Man."
Burton's competition for best-actress: Lindsay Duncan, "Private Lives;" Laura Linney, "The Crucible;" Helen Mirren, "Dance of Death;" and Mercedes Ruehl, "The Goat."
Actor-musical nominations went to Gavin Creel, "Thoroughly Modern Millie;" the veteran John Cullum, "Urinetown;" John Lithgow, "Sweet Smell of Success;" John McMartin, "Into the Wood;" and Patrick Wilson, "Oklahoma!"
Two actresses from "Urinetown," Nancy Opel and Jennifer Laura Thompson, will compete against each other for the actress-musical prize. They will face Sutton Foster, who plays Millie in "Thoroughly Modern Millie;" Louise Pitre in "Mamma Mia!" and Vanessa Williams, who is the witch in "Into the Woods."
Left out of the revival category were "The Elephant Man," "Dance of Death" and "The Man Who Had All the Luck," Arthur Miller's first Broadway play which closed after only four performances in 1944.
"The Graduate," the Kathleen Turner star vehicle based on the Mike Nichols classic film comedy, got no nominations. It also got some of the worse reviews of the season. Also passed over for nominations were such critically lauded performers as Ian McKellen in "Dance of Death" and Bill Pullman in "The Goat."
In the thin musical-revival category, the competition will be only between "Oklahoma!" and the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine fairy tale musical, "Into the Woods."
As expected, the announcement of nominations for the best of the Broadway season yielded something that was missing from last year's contest — real competition.
In 2001, the smash Mel Brooks musical "The Producers" dominated the nominations and then the ceremony itself. The show received 15 nominations and took home 12 awards last June, unseating "Hello, Dolly!" as the winner of the most awards ever.
This year, things weren't nearly as clear cut.
Winners will be announced June 2 in a nationally televised broadcast from Radio City Music Hall.
By Michael Kuchwara