May 4, 2010 / 5:11 PM / in 8 years

"Fela!." "La Cage aux Folles," lead Tony nominations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Fela!,” a new dance musical that tells the story of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and a revival of the musical “La Cage aux Folles” led the nominations for Broadway’s top theater honors, the Tony Awards, announced on Tuesday.

<p>Actors Jeff Daniels (R) and Lea Michele announce the nominees for the American Theatre Wing's 2010 Tony Awards in New York, May 4, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>

Both musicals picked up 11 nominations, followed by a revival of August Wilson’s play “Fences,” which picked up ten. “Fences” actors Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who play a married couple struggling with changing U.S. race relations, were both nominated for their leading performances.

Washington said in a statement that returning to Broadway “is like coming home again for me” and sharing a Tony nomination “makes it seem like one big family reunion.”

“La Cage aux Folles” stars Kelsey Grammer and British stage veteran Douglas Hodge were both nominated for their turns as a gay couple who deal with their son’s impending marriage in the leading actor in a musical category, joined by Sahr Ngaujah from Fela!.

Other Hollywood stars nominated for the awards, which is limited to Broadway productions, included Jude Law for “Hamlet” and Christopher Walken in British playwright Martin McDonagh’s quirky play “A Behanding in Spokane.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones said she “couldn’t imagine a better way to make my Broadway debut” after being nominated for best leading actress in a musical for “A Little Night Music.” Actors Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson were also nominated for a revival of the Arthur Miller play, “A View From the Bridge.”

“Memphis,” a new musical that looks at the roots of rock-and-roll, won eight nominations while musical revival “Ragtime,” received seven.

After relocating from a run in London, “Red,” a play about abstract artist Mark Rothko, picked up seven nominations, including a nod for best lead actor in a play to British actor Alfred Molina.

“Audiences are really responding to Rothko. They love him and they love the struggle,” “Red” playwright John Logan told Reuters.

“Enron,” a show about the fraud and deception behind the Enron scandal, another transplant from London, nabbed four nominations, including best original score.

Rock band Green Day’s new musical, “American Idiot,” picked up three nominations, including one for best musical along with “Fela!,” which features no big-name actors, unlike many other productions nominated.

“Fela!” bucks the recent trend of Broadway producers relying on Hollywood actors to attract audiences.

Fela’s director Bill T. Jones was nominated for best choreographer. The former off-Broadway musical signed up hip hop star Jay-Z and actor Will Smith as Broadway co-producers.

The complete list of Tony Award nominations can be found at www.tonyawards.com. The awards will be broadcast on June 13 from New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Editing by Todd Eastham

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