Two Oklahoma City University graduates have earned Tony Award nominations for their work during the 2011-12 Broadway season.
Kelli O'Hara earned a Best Actress nod for her starring role as bootlegger Billie Bendix in the new Gershwin musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” The 1998 OCU grad was previously nominated for her work in “The Light in the Piazza,” “The Pajama Game” and “South Pacific.”
“It's another wonderful surprise ... never expected but always hoped for,” O'Hara said after learning about her fourth Tony nomination. “Feels like the cherry on top of an already indulgent dessert. It feels great!”
Ron Raines, a Texas native who earned a music degree from OCU in 1974, was honored with a Best Actor nomination for his role as Benjamin Stone in the 2011 revival of Stephen Sondheim's “Follies.” The production had a limited four-month Broadway run, but it will reopen Thursday and run through June 9 in Los Angeles.
“We are of course thrilled at this recognition for Ron and Kelli,” said Mark Parker, dean of the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at OCU. “They are both so talented and have accomplished so much in their careers. The Bass School of Music continues to produce graduates who time and time again reach the very top of the music profession.”
“Once,” a musical based on the 2006 film about an Irish musician and a young Czech girl living in Dublin, led the pack with 11 nominations. “The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” each received 10 nominations.
Disney's “Newsies” and the “Follies” revival earned eight nominations apiece. “Evita” (starring Ricky Martin in his Broadway debut) and “Ghost the Musical” (based on the 1990 screenplay) received three nominations.
“Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” was to have opened at the end of the 2010-11 Broadway season but the production was shuttered and reworked before reopening in June 2011. It only earned two nominations, both in technical categories.
Vying for the Best Musical award are “Leap of Faith,” “Newsies,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Once.”
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” a prequel to “Peter Pan,” earned nine nominations, including one as Best Play. Its competition in that category are “Clybourne Park,” “Other Desert Cities” and “Venus in Fur.”
A revival of Arthur Miller's “Death of a Salesman” and the British comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors” received seven nominations each.
Oklahoman Kristin Chenoweth (a Tony Award winner for “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown”) and Jim Parsons (an Emmy winner for “The Big Bang Theory”) announced the nominations Tuesday at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The 66th annual Tony Awards will be broadcast at 7 p.m. June 10 on CBS.
Sunday's Life section will feature a profile about Kelli O'Hara and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”