Musicals "Mean Girls," "SpongeBob SquarePants" lead Tony field; Lauren Ridloff a nominee for "Children of a Lesser God"

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NEW YORK — Lauren Ridloff's starring performance in the Broadway revival of Mark Medoff's "Children of a Lesser God" has earned the actress a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

The actress is making her professional debut in the production, which had a pre-Broadway run last summer at Berkshire Theatre Group's Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.

"Of course Lauren Ridloff was nominated for a Tony Award," Berkshire Theatre Group CEO/Artistic Director Kate Maguire commented via e-mail in response to a question. "Transcending language, she taught what it truly means to communicate."

Ridloff will be competing against Amy Schumer, who made her Broadway debut in Steve Martin's comedy "Meteor Shower"; and Glenda Jackson from "Three Tall Women" and Condola Rashad in "Saint Joan."

The nominations for the 2018 Tony Awards were announced Tuesday in New York.

Tina Fey's musical "Mean Girls," which she adapted from her much-beloved and oft-quoted 2004 high school comedy movie, and the goofy undersea adaptation from the cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical" lead the Tony Award nominations with a dozen nods each.

Fey and her husband, Jeff Richmond, who wrote the "Mean Girls" music, both admitted they awaited the announcement with bated breath. "We're new to this whole Broadway thing and this whole musical thing so it was hard to tell which way everything could swing," Richmond said.

A British revival of "Angels in America," Tony Kushner's monumental, two-part drama about AIDS, life and love during the 1980s, grabbed 11 nominations — the most for any play this season — 25 years after it first appeared on Broadway. The shimmering, grown-up musical "The Band's Visit" also earned 11 nods.

J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" franchise extended its magical touch to Broadway, with the two-part stage play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" featuring the bespectacled wizard earning 10 nominations, as did a revival of "My Fair Lady."

The best new musical category is filled by "The Band's Visit," ''Frozen," ''Mean Girls" and "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical." Those musicals that failed to make the cut were the Hal Prince revue "Prince of Broadway," the Jimmy Buffet musical "Escape to Margaritaville" and "Summer," about disco diva Donna Summer.

Taylor Louderman, a veteran of such musicals as "Bring It On The Musical" and "Kinky Boots," earned her first nomination for playing a high school queen bee who is laid low in "Mean Girls."

"I really haven't sat back and thought about the young version of me and how she would be freaking out right now," she said. "I'm from a small town where people don't really get out and dream big. I just really thought I would never be here."

She faces competition from Lauren Ambrose of "My Fair Lady," Hailey Kilgore of "Once On This Island," LaChanze of "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical," Katrina Lenk from "The Band's Visit" and Jessie Mueller of "Carousel."

This is Tony-winner Mueller's fourth nomination but she said it never gets old. "It's still exciting. It always feels different because every show means something different, and is very personal in its own way. I just keep thinking of all the happy faces I'm going to see tonight when I go to work," she said.

The two-part "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," which picks up 19 years from where Rowling's last novel left off and portrays Potter and his friends as grown-ups, won nine Olivier Awards in London before coming to the U.S. and bewitching critics and audiences alike. It now will face "The Children," ''Farinelli and The King," ''Junk" and "Latin History for Morons" for best new play.

Anthony Boyle won a nomination for best featured actor for his work in "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." He played Scorpius Malfoy in London and now on Broadway. He said he's having a ball with Broadway audiences.

"They're so vocal, it's like having an extra cast member onstage," he said. "You hear audible gasps, and sobs. Broadway audiences are incomparable."

Best male acting nominations for a play include Denzel Washington, starring in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's epic "The Iceman Cometh." The 2010 Tony winner for "Fences" faces off against Andrew Garfield in "Angels in America," Tom Hollander of "Travesties," Jamie Parker of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" and Mark Rylance in "Farinelli and The King."

"Carousel," ''My Fair Lady" and "Once on This Island" make up the best musical revival category, mostly because they're the only eligible nominees.

The best play revival category is filled by "Angels in America," ''Three Tall Women," ''Lobby Hero," ''Travesties" and "The Iceman Cometh."

One surprise was the relatively few nominations for Disney's "Frozen" — three, for best original score, best book and best musical. The much-anticipated adaptation of the animated blockbuster got no nominations for its leading ladies — Caissie Levy and Patti Murin— or for traditional Disney strengths like sets and costumes.

Bruce Springsteen, whose solo show mixes songs and stories from his best-selling memoir "Born to Run" and has been banking over $2 million each week he's onstage, will be granted a special, non-competitive Tony, along with John Leguizamo for "Latin History for Morons."

The awards will be presented 8 p.m. June 10, broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall.

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report. Material was added by Berkshire Eagle arts editor Jeffrey Borak.




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