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New York — The musical "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," a comedic romp in which a poor man eliminates the eight heirs ahead of him for a title, nabbed a leading 10 Tony Award nominations on Tuesday. Nominations were spread out for most other shows, reflecting the lack of a juggernaut this year.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a cult off-Broadway hit about a transgender East German performer, stars Neil Patrick Harris and won eight nominations, while "After Midnight," a musical celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club nightclub, got seven, tied with "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" and a British revival of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." Bryan Cranston won a nod for playing Lyndon Johnson in "All the Way."
The nominations also made waves for snubbing some big names, including Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Michelle Williams, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig.
Danny Burstein got one of the two nods "Cabaret" received and though it was his fifth nomination, he said he was sad that co-star Williams missed out in her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles.
"I'm heartbroken that she wasn't nominated. She is so fantastic in the show. And in all my years I have never seen anyone work harder," he said. "She comes in at 5:45 every day for an 8:00 show, to work on things, run through numbers."
The musicals up for the big prize in June are: "After Midnight," ''A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," ''Aladdin," and "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." Shows that failed to make the cut include "Bullets Over Broadway," ''Rocky," ''If/Then" and "The Bridges of Madison County."
"It's good to be acknowledged," said Andy Karl, nominated as a leading actor for the title role in "Rocky" and who has transformed his body over three years into a fearsome boxer. "It's nice to know it was worth the time and effort." Of the lack of a best musical nomination for the show, he said he was disappointed, adding: "That's how the Tony cookie crumbles."
Jessie Mueller, nominated for playing songwriter Carole King, said she was thrilled "Beautiful" had done so well with seven nominations. She added she's still stunned by the outpouring of affection King gets.
"Every night I am still nervous about it, and I think that's what keeps me honest. I admire her so much. I take it very seriously. It's a big responsibility," said Mueller. (King, who only recently saw the show, posted on her Facebook page that she will attend the Tony Awards.)
"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" was nominated for best book by Robert L. Freedman, best original score for Freedman and Steven Lutvak, best costumes by Linda Cho, best direction by Darko Tresnjak, Jonathan Tunick's orchestrations, best featured actress in a musical for Lauren Worsham, best scenic design for Alexander Dodge and for its two lead actors: Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham.
The show, which was well received but sometimes struggled at the box office, has been considered an underdog this season, though Mays was considered a lock for a nomination: In each show, he plays all eight victims — two women and six men — and goes through 12 costume changes in the first act alone.
Disney's "Aladdin," an adaptation of the 1992 animated movie featuring a rambunctious genie, earned five nominations, including one for James Monroe Iglehart, who plays the genie.
"I know it sounds cliche, but I'm so happy to be nominated. I get to sit down at the Tonys. I'm not in the back. I'm not watching it on television. I get to sit. There's a ticket with my name on it," Iglehart said. "And I don't have to pay for it!"
Five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald earned a leading actress in a play nomination for "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." That's the one female acting category in which she hasn't already notched at least one win, meaning she is in a position to make history as the Tonys' first grand-slam performance winner.
McDonald goes up against Tyne Daly from "Mothers and Sons," LaTanya Richardson Jackson of "A Raisin in the Sun," Cherry Jones from "The Glass Menagerie" and Estelle Parsons in "The Velocity of Autumn."
The best new play category has James Lapine's "Act One," Terrance McNally's "Mothers and Sons," Robert Schenkkan's "All the Way," John Patrick Shanley's "Outside Mullingar" and Harvey Fierstein's "Casa Valentina."
Mark Rylance got two nods: One as a leading actor in a play for "Richard III" and another as a featured role in "Twelfth Night." Stephen Fry also got a nomination for his featured role in "Twelfth Night."
Rylance will compete in the best leading actor in a play category with Samuel Barnett also in "Twelfth Night," Cranston in "All The Way", Chris O'Dowd in "Of Mice and Men" and Tony Shalhoub in "Act One."
Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel, the "Frozen" singer who got a dose of attention when John Travolta mangled her name at the Oscars, also got a nomination for her role in "If/Then," the only totally original new musical on Broadway this season.
She will compete in June with Mary Bridget Davies in "A Night with Janis Joplin," Sutton Foster in "Violet," Mueller in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" and Kelli O'Hara of "The Bridges of Madison County."
The best play revival category includes "The Cripple of Inishmaan," ''The Glass Menagerie," ''A Raisin in the Sun" and "Twelfth Night." There are only three options for best musical revival: "Violet," ''Les Miserables" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
A new rule this year allows for a fifth nominee in the four major production categories — best musical and play and best revivals for each — if at least nine shows are eligible and the fifth-highest vote-getter finishes close enough to the fourth.
Some 870 Tony voters — members of professional groups such as the Wing, the League, Actors' Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society — will decide the final awards, which will be handed out June 8 at Radio City Music Hall. Only Broadway shows that opened in the 12 months ending on April 24 are eligible.
"I'm in shock," said Lena Hall, a Broadway veteran who earned a best featured actress in a musical for her gender-bending part beside Harris in the rock show "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
The lesson, she said of her nomination — in addition to always jump at the chance to work with Harris — is to "do what you believe in and do what you love." Hall, who has appeared in "Cats," ''Tarzan" and "Kinky Boots," said she was waiting to call her parents who were still asleep in San Francisco. "I really wasn't expecting this at all. This is crazy."