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Tony Awards mystery: Why was 'Priscilla' dumped?

May 3, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Priscilla Tony Award nominationsOne of the biggest jaw-droppers concerning the list of Tony Award nominations was the absence of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" from the contenders for best musical.

The stage adaptation of the 1994 drag film classic seemed like a snap to be nominated along with "The Book of Mormon" and "Sister Act." The big cliffhanger in this contest was supposed to be whether "Catch Me If You Can" or "The Scottsborough Boys" would nab that fourth slot.

"Scottsborough" was the only closed show among the chief contenders and had been dismissed as a flop because it was shuttered after 78 performances, but it had sentiment on its side. It's the last new Broadway musical by the legendary team of Kander and Ebb ("Cabaret") following the death of lyricist Fred Ebb in 2004. Like me, some pundits predicted that it would squeak into this contest, but nobody foresaw it receiving 12 nominations!

"Priscilla" received far better reviews than "Catch Me," but the latter show probably trumped "Priscilla" because it has an original score. Nonetheless, Tony voters, strangely, didn't nominate it for score or lyrics. Go figure. At least breakout "Priscilla" star Tony Sheldon got nominated for best lead actor in a musical.

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: A scene from "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Credit: Palace Theatre

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