Tony Award nods largely skip stars for veterans

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm •  Published: April 30, 2013
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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," said Osnes. "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."

Candidates for best leading actress in a play include Metcalf of "The Other Place," Morton in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" 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 talent on show, notably squeezed out were Fiona Shaw of "The Testament of Mary" and Jessica Hecht in "The Assembled Parties."

Durang, the playwright of "Vanya and Sonia," wrote parts in it for both Nielsen and Weaver.

"We're both really lucky to have someone of his caliber that would even think of putting words in our mouth," Nielsen said. "I wish he were here to put words in my mouth today!"

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."

Kenneth Posner had a great morning. The lighting designer got three of four slots — for "Kinky Boots," ''Pippin" and "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella." He will face off against Hugh Vanstone, the lighting designer for "Matilda: The Musical."

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 one of those little rules you learn. Like, only read the reviews that they put outside the theater."

The hit-stuffed "Motown: The Musical," about Motown Records under founder Berry Gordy, earned four nominations, including Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross and Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson.

LeKae, who was an understudy or swing in four other Broadway shows, is making her Broadway debut as a leading lady and said everything in her life has prepared her for the role. She grew up listening to Ross and performing her songs.

"It's very interesting the way life works out. I left 'The Book of Mormon' last year in March and I was a swing for the show," she said. "It's amazing how life can change in a matter of a year's time. You can be swinging one year and be nominated the next."

Shalita Grant, who plays a housekeeper convinced she can see the future in "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," was woken by her publicist with the news that she's landed a features actress nomination. Unlike her character, she never expected it.

"I did not think this was going to happen with all of the people, with all of the shows, with all of the names. I've only been on Broadway for like two months. I'm like, 'I don't see this in my future,'" she said, laughing. "You know what? We'll just hope for the best. There's a quote that I love, which is, 'If you shoot for the moon, you can usually clear the trees.'"

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

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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Online: http://www.TonyAwards.com