"Billy Elliot" set to win big at Tony Awards

Thu Jun 4, 2009 4:24pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Billy Elliot The Musical" is likely to dance away with a haul of Tony Awards, critics say, when the top U.S. theater honors are announced on Sunday for a Broadway season that defied recession with record sales.

In the running for 15 Tony Awards, "Billy Elliot" is based on Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry's 2000 film about a ballet dancing schoolboy in a mining town in northern England. The show has already won 10 Drama Desk Awards and seven Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Critics from the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News agree the production will win best new musical, Daldry will be named best director of a musical and the three teenage actors who share the role of "Billy Elliot" will together win for best lead actor in a musical.

"Billy Elliot is going to do quite well," New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel told Reuters. "It's a very emotionally moving and absorbing story, extremely well directed by Stephen Daldry."

The Los Angeles Times entertainment awards website, The Envelope, which has so far polled 10 critics for its Tony picks, predicts "Billy Elliot" will win at least 11, including best original score by Sir Elton John and Lee Hall, who also wrote the film and the musical production.

The show is competing against "Shrek the Musical," "Next to Normal" and "Rock of Ages" for best new musical. "Next to Normal" star Alice Ripley is tipped to win best lead actress in a musical for her role as a bipolar suburban housewife.

"God of Carnage" is the front-runner for best new play. Its all-star cast -- former "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels -- have all been nominated in the best actor and actress in a play categories.


<p>Actors (L-R) Kiril Kulish, David Alvarez and Trent Kowalik, all nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical" for their work in "Billy Elliot, The Musical", arrive for a press reception in New York May 6, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>