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'Kinky Boots' kicks up 13 Tony nods

by MARK KENNEDY AP Drama Writer on May 01, 2013 11:00 AM

NEW YORK — The Cyndi Lauper-scored “Kinky Boots” has earned a leading 13 Tony Award nominations, with the British import “Matilda: The Musical” close behind with 12. Tom Hanks, making his Broadway debut, earned a nod as leading man in a play.

“Kinky Boots” is based on the 2005 British movie about a real-life shoe factory that struggles until it finds new life in fetish footwear. Lauper’s songs and a story by Harvey Fierstein have made it a crowd-pleaser.

“It’s so great. It’s so great. I’m done crying a little bit. But I’m still thrilled and a little stunned,” Lauper said.

The haul did not match the record number of nominations for a musical, which is 15, set by “The Producers” in 2001 and “Billy Elliot” in 2009. “The Book of Mormon” nabbed 14 Tony nods in 2011.

“Lucky Guy,” Nora Ephron’s portrait of Mike McAlary, a gutsy New York City newspaper columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing that a Haitian immigrant had been sodomized by police officers in 1997, got six nominations, including one for Hanks as McAlary.

“This makes me both giddy and nervous, and it could not be more special,” Hanks said. “Before this began, I thought I knew what it would be like. But you can’t imagine what it is. There’s the muscle and the brain, but also the spirit and the heart. And it’s fun, if fun also incorporates a huge amount of fear.”

Courtney B. Vance earned a best featured actor nomination playing an editor in “Lucky Guy.” He and Hanks were among the few actors in the production to work with Ephron on it before her death. “She’d be ecstatic. She’d be grinning ear to ear. And she is, right now.”

In addition to Hanks, the leading actor in a play nominees are Nathan Lane for “The Nance,” Tracy Letts from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, David Hyde Pierce from “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and Tom Sturridge from “Orphans.”

“Matilda: The Musical” is a witty musical adaptation of the novel by Roald Dahl and is true to his bleak vision of childhood as a savage battleground.

Both “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda” will compete for the best musical prize with the acrobatic “Bring It On: The Musical” and “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” adapted from the beloved holiday movie.

Among the flurry of nominations, “Kinky Boots” also earned Fierstein a nod for best book, David Rockwell one for sets and Jerry Mitchell for directing and for choreography. Its two leading men, Billy Porter and Stark Sands, were also nominated. Annaleigh Ashford earned a featured role nomination.

“Matilda” earned nominations for choreography, Matthew Warchus’ directing, Chris Nightingale’s orchestrations, best book by Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin for lyrics and songs and Bertie Carvel for best leading role in a musical.

Carvel, who played the same evil headmistress role in London, said he is enjoying his time in New York, although he did admit to being nervous about how Americans would react.

“I feel like I’ve landed on happy shores,” he said. “The show is in great shape. People are loving it.”

The best musical revival candidates are “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “Annie,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Pippin,” which nabbed 10 nominations.

Patina Miller, last on Broadway as the heroine of “Sister Act,” stepped into the Ben Vereen role of Leading Player in “Pippin” and earned her second straight nomination.

The first time, she said, “I was so nervous about saying and doing the right things. This time, I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve been given a great opportunity and I want to keep enjoying it. Not a lot of people get to experience something like this.”

The producers of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” saw both their Cinderella — Laura Osnes — and her prince — Santino Fontana — nominated for leading roles in a musical.

“I’m floating on air! I think I am over the tears now,” Osnes said. “I started crying when Santino’s name was called. So I was already crying when they called mine. I am just so thrilled, so excited.”

Kenneth Posner had a great morning. The lighting designer got nominations for “Kinky Boots,” “Pippin” and “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”

He will face off against Hugh Vanstone, the lighting designer for “Matilda: The Musical.”

The best play nominees are Richard Greenberg’s “The Assembled Parties,” Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy,” Colm Toibin’s “The Testament of Mary” and Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

The revival of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy,” a play about a young man torn between his natural talent as a violinist and the fast money and fame of being a boxer, earned eight nominations, the most for any play.

Richard Greenberg’s “The Assembled Parties,” a New York City drama concerning the power of familial bonds, earned three nominations, including ones for Judith Light, scenic design and best play.

“It’s been so luxuriously treated by this production,” the playwright said.

“It was given such care and attention. I think you only get something that unblemished once. And so I’m relishing it.”

Playwright Douglas Carter Beane earned a best book nomination for the lush, big musical “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” but not for his more intimate play “The Nance,” although it earned five nods. A veteran, he rolled with it Tuesday morning.

“You just have to really enjoy it when you get nominated and you have to just not care when you’re not,” he said.

“It’s great to show I’m not just this one thing. Just as actors like to show off their versatility, writers like to do it, too.”

The best actress in a leading role in a play includes Laurie Metcalf of “The Other Place,” Amy Morton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Kristine Nielsen of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Holland Taylor in her one-woman show, “Ann,” and Cicely Tyson in “The Trip to Bountiful.” With such high talent, squeezed out were Fiona Shaw of “The Testament of Mary” and Jessica Hecht in “The Assembled Parties.”

Although the revival of Rupert Holmes’ musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” has closed, it earned five nominations, including one for Stephanie J. Block, who played a pompous actress. “It felt really great to do that and have nobody complain,” Block joked. “I’m so pleased that all the committees are remembering ‘Drood’ because it really was such a special show.”

The awards will be broadcast on CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 9.

AP Entertainment Writer Frazier Moore and AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.

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