May 14, 2007 / 5:54 PM / 12 years ago

NY theatre awards pile up for Stoppard before Tonys

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Playwright Tom Stoppard was well placed to clean up at this year’s Tony Awards as award nominators prepared to announce the short list on Tuesday for Broadway’s top honours.

On Sunday the Outer Critics Circle announced its awards, one of several indicators of the way the wind was blowing, picking Stoppard’s “The Coast of Utopia”, a trilogy about 19th century Russian revolutionaries, as best new Broadway play.

Stoppard’s trilogy won six awards in total, including best director and best supporting actress, for Martha Plimpton. And earlier this month the New York Drama Critics’ Circle picked the trilogy, first seen at London’s National Theatre in 2002, as best play.

“Spring Awakening”, an adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 German play about teen-age sexual angst, was named best new Broadway musical by the Outer Critics Circle. The show is already tipped as a strong contender for the Tonys after winning the New York Drama Critics Circle musical award.

Nominators for the Tonys were due to meet on Monday before unveiling their short list on Tuesday morning.

The Outer Critics and other smaller awards are eyed by theatregoers and critics for clues to the outcome of the Tony’s, set for June 10 this year.

New York Post theatre writer Michael Riedel said “The Coast of Utopia” was among three shoo-ins for the four Tony nominations for best play, along with Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon” and the late August Wilson’s “Radio Golf”.

The New York Drama Critics picked “Radio Golf,” the story of an African American aspiring politician struggling with his conscience, as best American play.

BIG-NAMED FAVORITES

Big names tipped for possible nominations include Liev Schreiber in “Talk Radio”, Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon” and Vanessa Redgrave as a grieving widow in “The Year of Magical Thinking”.

“The most interesting category is best leading actor,” Riedel told Reuters, adding that Langella was the favourite, with Christopher Plummer and Bill Nighy also in the running, while Kevin Spacey was likely to be snubbed.

On the musical side, Riedel said “Spring Awakening” was sure to be nominated, as were “Curtains,” a murder-mystery comedy musical, and “Grey Gardens”, a critical hit about two reclusive, eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Big budget, glitzy shows such as “Mary Poppins”, produced by Disney, and “Legally Blonde”, adapted from the Hollywood movie of the same name, are among those vying for the final slot, despite only tepid reviews from critics.

Despite being nominated for 11 awards by the Outer Critics Circle, “Mary Poppins” came away without a single prize.

The Tonys are particularly important as a marketing tool for major productions aiming to tour regional theatres, so a shut-out from nominations would be a blow to a show.

A strong contender for the fourth musical slot is “LoveMusik”, a relatively high-brow musical about the romance of German composer Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. It was nominated for 12 awards by another critics’ group, the Drama Desk, which is due to present its prizes on May 20.

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