‘Follies,’ ‘Clybourne Park’ among Tony nominees that got their start in Washington

The Kennedy Center’s production of “Follies” earned an impressive eight Tony nods, including one for best musical revival, in the nominations unveiled Tuesday morning in New York.

The announcements, by actors Jim Parsons and Kristin Chenoweth, also revealed that Shakespeare Theatre Company will receive the special Tony Award that is given each year to an outstanding regional theater company. The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Clybourne Park,” which had a crucial early run at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, received four nominations, including one for best new play. And a revival of Terrence McNally’s “Master Class,” which also began at the Kennedy Center, received a nomination for best play revival.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Michael M. Kaiser, the Kennedy Center’s president, said by phone from Los Angeles, where “Follies” has been reassembled and starts performances this week. “We don’t do our shows to bring them to New York, but we’re thrilled that this one went and we’re very proud of that. Washington’s theater community has a lot to celebrate.”

“Follies,” Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s examination of the troubled lives of ex-Broadway showgirls, transferred to Broadway last summer after a successful run in Washington. It also garnered nominations for lead actress (Jan Maxwell); lead actors (Danny Burstein and Ron Raines); featured actress (Jayne Houdyshell); costumes (Gregg Barnes); lighting (Natasha Katz) and sound design (Kai Harada). It will vie for best musical revival with “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”

In the closely watched category of best new musical, the nominees are “Leap of Faith,” “Newsies,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Once,” which led the Tony Awards nominations with 11 nods. (The publicity-vacuuming “Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark” was left off the short list for the top musical prize and took only two technical nominations, for sets and costumes.) In addition to “Clybourne,” the contenders for best new play are “Other Desert Cities,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Venus in Fur.”

The recognition of Shakespeare Theatre Company augurs a remarkably strong showing for Washington theater in this year’s awards ceremony, to be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris on June 10. Its special Tony is the second time in three years that the regional theater award has gone to a D.C. area company. In 2009, the award was presented to Signature Theatre in Arlington.

Michael Kahn, Shakespeare's longtime artistic director, said that he was "honored" by the award. "This is a very touching tribute, to have the work of all of the artists who have been a part of our 25-year history acknowledged," he said, in a prepared statement. "We are so thankful to our patrons and supporters who have helped shape us into the artistic institution that we have become."

Full list of Tony nominees

Peter Marks joined the Washington Post as its chief theater critic in 2002. Prior to that he worked for nine years at the New York Times, on the culture, metropolitan and national desks, and spent about four years as its off-Broadway drama critic.
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