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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Broadway musical "Hamilton," which has triggered a ticket-buying frenzy not seen in years, scored a record 16 Tony Award nominations on Tuesday, solidifying its front-runner status for the top prize of best musical.
"Hamilton" features a multiracial cast in a hip-hop and R & B-inflected musical that tells the story of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who was killed in an 1804 duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.
The show won nominations for lead actors Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton and Leslie Odom Jr. as Burr, for lead actress Phillipa Soo, and for best score and book, both written by Miranda. Four featured cast members also received nods.
The haul for "Hamilton" on Tuesday surpassed previous record-holders "The Producers" and "Billy Elliot," which each received 15 nominations.
"It's almost impossible to process," Miranda said in an interview afterward.
"I became aware that if my life were a movie, this would be a montage, playing on fast-forward. And now I'm just trying to slow down the montage."
"Hamilton" had already received widespread critical acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize, and amassed dozens of rave reviews. First lady Michelle Obama described it in March as "simply ... the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life."
The "Hamilton" soundtrack has sold more than 325,000 copies in the United States and has been streamed more than 279 million times across online platforms since its release in September, according to figures from Nielsen Music.
The soundtrack won the Grammy Award this year for best musical theater album, and Miranda and his co-stars performed the opening track, "Alexander Hamilton," at the ceremony. The cast was later invited to the White House and performed a couple of the show's songs.
"Hamilton" has propelled the star status of Miranda, who composed a segment of music for December's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and is rumored to be starring in a movie sequel of "Mary Poppins" alongside Emily Blunt.
Up against "Hamilton" for best musical are "Shuffle Along," with 10 nominations; "Waitress," "Bright Star" and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "School of Rock - the Musical."
Two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange was nominated for her portrayal of morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night," which won nominations for co-stars Gabriel Byrne and Michael Shannon and for best play revival.
"Blackbird," "Noises Off," and Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and "A View from the Bridge" were also nominated for best play revival.
Best play nominees were "The Humans," "The Father," "King Charles III" and "Eclipsed."
Best musical revival nominees were "She Loves Me," "Fiddler on the Roof," "The Color Purple" and "Spring Awakening."
Up against Lange in the category of best actress in a play are Laurie Metcalf in "Misery," Lupita Nyong'o in "Eclipsed," Sophie Okonedo for "The Crucible" and Michelle Williams in "Blackbird."
Williams' co-star Jeff Daniels was nominated as best actor, along with Frank Langella for "The Father," Tim Pigott-Smith for "King Charles III" and Mark Strong in "A View from the Bridge."
Best musical actress nominees included Laura Benanti for "She Loves Me," Carmen Cusack in "Bright Star," Cynthia Erivo for "The Color Purple" and Jessie Mueller for "Waitress."
Musical actor nods went to Alex Brightman for "School of Rock," Danny Burstein in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Zachary Levi for "She Loves Me."
Hollywood star Steve Martin won two nominations, for "Bright Star"'s book and as co-writer of the musical's score.
Other stars who appeared this season were shut out, including Keira Knightley, Al Pacino and Saoirse Ronan, as were Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker in their Broadway debuts.
The Tony Awards will be presented on June 12 at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre in a ceremony headlined by talk show host and past Tony winner James Corden.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; Additional reporting by Piya Sinha Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Peter Cooney