The much ballyhooed and controversial "Miss Saigon" and a late arrival on Broadway, "The Will Rogers Follies," lead the pack of Tony nominations announced Monday with 11 nominations apiece.
Neither show received consistently enthusiastic reviews--yet another indication of the slender pickings in the contemporary Broadway musical field. They were joined in the race for the best musical award by "Once on This Island" and "The Secret Garden."
The awards are given annually by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing.
In the competition for best Broadway play, Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers," this year's Pulitzer Prize winner, is the favorite. But it received one nomination fewer than the six picked up by the Hartford Stage Company's production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's "Our Country's Good," which Los Angeles saw first, in a Mark Taper Forum production in 1989.
Also contending in the best play category are John Guare's "Six Degrees of Separation" and William Nicholson's "Shadowlands."
Yale Repertory Theatre won the special Tony for outstanding regional theater--the only Tony that is open to institutions outside Broadway. It represented a return to the East Coast for this award, which has traveled across the country recently, from Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory in 1988 to Hartford Stage in 1989 to Seattle Repertory last year.
Productions of "Fiddler on the Roof," "Peter Pan" and "The Miser" will vie for the best revival award. This "Fiddler," with Topol, was seen in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa in 1989, and the same revival of "Peter Pan" played the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood last year.
The year's most controversial castings--those of Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce in a Eurasian role and Filipina actress Lea Salonga in the title role of "Miss Saigon"--netted nominations for best leading actor and actress in a musical. Actors Equity had declared that both roles should go to Asian-Americans.
Pryce is up against Keith Carradine in "Will Rogers Follies," Paul Hipp in "Buddy . . . The Buddy Holly Story" and Topol in "Fiddler."
Salonga will contend with Cathy Rigby in "Peter Pan," June Angela in "Shogun" and Dee Hoty in "Will Rogers Follies."
Competing for the leading actor in a play award are Peter Frechette of "Our Country's Good," Nigel Hawthorne of "Shadowlands," Tom McGowan of "La Bete," and Courtney B. Vance of "Six Degrees of Separation."
Julie Harris won a nomination for the just-closed "Lucifer's Child." She'll face Stockard Channing in "Six Degrees of Separation," Cherry Jones in "Our Country's Good" and Mercedes Ruehl in "Lost in Yonkers."
Among the featured actors nominated in the musical category was Bruce Adler, who did his nominated performance in "Those Were the Days" at the Westwood Playhouse in 1990. Also nominated were Hinton Battle and Willy Falk of "Miss Saigon" and Gregg Burge of "Oh! Kay!"
Nominees for featured actress in a musical are Daisy Eagan and Alison Fraser of "The Secret Garden," Cady Huffman of "Will Rogers" and La Chanze of "Once on This Island."
Irene Worth was nominated as a featured actress in "Lost in Yonkers," joined by Amelia Campbell and J. Smith-Cameron of "Our Country's Good" and Kathryn Erbe of "The Speed of Darkness."
The men in that category are Adam Arkin of "I Hate Hamlet," Dylan Baker of "La Bete," Stephen Lang of "The Speed of Darkness" and Kevin Spacey of "Lost in Yonkers."
Play director nominees include Gene Saks for "Lost in Yonkers" and Jerry Zaks for "Six Degrees." Their competition is Richard Jones of "La Bete" and Mark Lamos of "Our Country's Good."
Tommy Tune of "Will Rogers," Graciela Daniele of "Once on This Island," Nicholas Hytner of "Miss Saigon" and Eleanor Reissa" of "Those Were the Days" were nominated for directing musicals.
Julie Andrews and Jeremy Irons will co-host the nationally televised awards ceremony on CBS on June 2.