Surprise may be a key element in live theater, but there were few surprises among this year's Tony Award nominations, announced in New York yesterday.
"Miss Saigon," the Vietnamized version of "Madame Butterfly" that generated so much casting controversy last summer, walked off with 11 nominations, including nominations for best musical and for Jonathan Pryce, the British actor whose appearance in a leading Eurasian role was originally contested on racial grounds by American Actors' Equity.
An equal number of nominations were chalked up by Tommy Tune's "The Will Rogers Follies," which opened last week on the final day of eligibility. The other top musical contenders are "The Secret Garden," adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's novel, and "Once on This Island," a romantic Caribbean fable.
The best play competition will pit Neil Simon's Pulitzer-winning "Lost in Yonkers" against "Six Degrees of Separation," John Guare's critically acclaimed play about a young black con artist who passes himself off as Sidney Poiter's son.
No surprises there. However, these plays will be challenged by a relative upstart, "Our Country's Good," Timberlake Wertenbaker's story of a group of Australian convicts who stage a Restoration comedy. Recipient of six nominations -- more than any other dramatic play this season -- this regional theater import opened nine days ago under the auspices of the Broadway Alliance, a newly created program to lower Broadway costs. Also nominated was "Shadowlands," William Nicholson's play about the marriage of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman, which closed April 7.
Although no Broadway tryouts came through Baltimore this year, one show from the Mechanic Theatre season did show up among the nominations. "Peter Pan" will compete against "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Miser" for best revival. "Peter Pan's" star, Cathy Rigby, was nominated for best musical actress in a category that also includes Dee Hoty of "The Will Rogers Follies," June Angela in "Shogun, the Musical" (another show that has closed), and Lea Salonga in "Miss Saigon."
In addition, a show due to be presented next month at Center Stage with its original Broadway cast -- the English-Yiddish musical revue "Those Were the Days" -- garnered two nominations, one for Eleanor Reissa's direction and the other for featured actor Bruce Adler.
The 45th annual Tony Awards will be telecast live from New York's Minskoff Theatre on CBS (WBAL-TV, Channel 11 in Baltimore) on June 2, beginning at 9 p.m. The ceremony will be co-hosted by past Tony Award winners Julie Andrews and Jeremy Irons.
Besides the usual awards, a special Tony will be given posthumously to the Rev. George Moore, pastor of St. Malachy's Roman Catholic Church, known among theater folk as the Actor's Chapel.
Tony nominations are announced
These are the Tony Award nominees for Broadway's 1990-91 season.
Play: "Lost in Yonkers," by Neil Simon; "Our Country's Good," by Timberlake Wertenbaker; "Shadowlands," by William Nicholson; "Six Degrees of Separation," by John Guare.
Musical: "Miss Saigon," "Once on This Island," "The Secret Garden," "The Will Rogers Follies."
Revival: "Fiddler on the Roof," "The Miser," "Peter Pan."
Actor, Play: Peter Frechette, "Our Country's Good"; Nigel Hawthorne, "Shadowlands"; Tom McGowan, "La Bete"; Courtney B. Vance, "Six Degrees of Separation."
Actress, Play: Stockard Channing, "Six Degrees of Separation"; Julie Harris, "Lucifer's Child"; Cherry Jones, "Our Country's Good," Mercedes Ruehl, "Lost in Yonkers."
Actor, Musical: Keith Carradine, "The Will Rogers Follies"; Paul Hipp, "Buddy . . . the Buddy Holly Story"; Jonathan Pryce, "Miss Saigon"; Topol, "Fiddler on the Roof."
Actress, Musical: June Angela, "Shogun, the Musical"; Dee Hoty, "The Will Rogers Follies"; Cathy Rigby, "Peter Pan"; Lea Salonga, "Miss Saigon."
Book, Musical: "Miss Saigon" by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg; "Once on This Island" by Lynn Ahrens; "The Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman; "The Will Rogers Follies" by Peter Stone.
Score, Musical: "Miss Saigon," composer Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyricists Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil; "Once on This Island," composer Stephen Flaherty, lyricist Lynn Ahrens; "The Secret Garden," composer Lucy Simon, lyricist Marsha Norman; "The Will Rogers Follies," composer Cy Coleman, lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Director, Play: Richard Jones, "La Bete"; Mark Lamos, "Our Country's Good"; Gene Saks, "Lost in Yonkers"; Jerry Zaks, "Six Degrees of Separation."
Director, Musical: Graciela Daniele, "Once on This Island"; Nicholas Hytner, "Miss Saigon"; Eleanor Reissa, "Those Were the Days"; Tommy Tune, "The Will Rogers Follies."
Featured Actor, Play: Adam Arkin, "I Hate Hamlet"; Dylan Baker, "La Bete"; Stephen Lang, "The Speed of Darkness"; Kevin Spacey, "Lost in Yonkers."
Featured Actress, Play: Amelia Campbell, "Our Country's Good"; Kathryn Erbe, "The Speed of Darkness"; J. Smith-Cameron, "Our Country's Good"; Irene Worth, "Lost in Yonkers."