The nominations for the 2001 Tony Awards, Broadway's premier stage awards, were announced at Sardi's Restaurant in New York's Theatre District yesterday, 7 May. They include a resounding 15 nominations for the new musical version of Mel Brooks' The Producers - the highest number of nominations for a single production in Broadway history - including nods for Best Musical, two for leading actor in a musical to both its high profile stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and three more (out of a total five nominations) in the featured actor in a musical category to Roger Bart, Gary Beach and Brad Oscar.

Other musicals recognised in the Best Musical category were A Class Act, The Full Monty and Jane Eyre, all of which also compete with The Producers in the Best Book and Best Original Score categories. Two other new musicals, Seussical and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, were all but shuttered out, the former only taking a nomination for lead Kevin Chamberlin (as Best Actor in a Musical) and the latter named for its scenic design (Heidi Ettinger) and lighting (Kenneth Posner) only.

Of the musical revivals, Bells are Ringing, Follies, 42nd Street and The Rocky Horror Show are nominated for Best Revival of a Musical, with cast members from each of those variously named, including Faith Prince from Bells, Blythe Danner from Follies and Christine Ebersole from 42nd Street for Leading Actress in a Musical (alongside A Class Act's Randy Graff and Jane Eyre's Marla Schaffel), Tom Hewitt from Rocky Horror for Best Actor in a Musical (alongside Broderick, Lane and Chamberlin, plus The Full Monty's Patrick Wilson), and 42nd Street's Kate Levering and Mary Testa both named in the Featured Actress in a Musical category.

In the Best Plays stakes, three new American plays - August Wilson's King Hedley II, David Auburn's Proof and Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife compete with Tom Stoppard's {The Invention of Love::E01247340916}, the latter of which was originally produced at the Royal National Theatre. Marie Jones's Olivier Award winning Best Comedy {Stones in His Pockets::E01048796670}, which has taken the West End by storm was shut out of this category, but its two stars, Sean Campion and Conleth Hill, reprise their Olivier nominee status in going head-to-head against each other for Leading Actor in a Play. (The Olivier - as well as's Award - eventually went to Hill.) Also nominated for Leading Actor are Gary Sinise (for his performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, seen last year at the Barbican as part of BITE:00), Richard Easton (in The Invention of Love), and Brian Stokes Mitchell (in King Hedley II). The director of {Stones in His Pockets::E01048796670}, Ian McElhinney, is nominated for Best Direction of a Play, alongside the directors of King Hedley II, The Invention of Love and Proof.

A Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event, a new category, was awarded to Blast!, which is currently at Broadway's Broadway Theatre but was actually first seen at the Hammersmith Apollo.

The Tony Awards will be presented in a ceremony at New York's Radio City Music Hall on 3 June 2001, to be hosted by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick of The Producers.

- by Mark Shenton