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SpeakEasy, Huntington lead Norton Awards nominees

Thomas Derrah (left) and Karl Baker Olson in the Speak-Easy Stage’s “Red,’’ which garnered five nominees.

Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Thomas Derrah (left) and Karl Baker Olson in the Speak-Easy Stage’s “Red,’’ which garnered five nominees.

If it’s an honor just to be nominated, SpeakEasy Stage Company and the Huntington Theatre Company are the most honored organizations on the 2012 Elliot Norton Awards’ roll of nominees. SpeakEasy tops the Boston Theater Critics Association list with 13 nods, and the Huntington is a close second with an even dozen.

SpeakEasy’s “Red,” the John Logan play about painter Mark Rothko, garnered five nominations, more than any other production. Coming away with four apiece were the American Repertory Theater’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” currently on Broadway; SpeakEasy’s “Next to Normal,” the musical about mental illness that won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama; and two Huntington shows: Mary Zimmerman’s production of “Candide” and Stephen Karam’s play “Sons of the Prophet,” which had its world premiere at the Huntington before moving to New York.

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ArtsEmerson snagged seven nominations, including one for outstanding visiting production, “Mabou Mines DollHouse.” The ART got four on its own, while its second stage, Oberon, shares two nominations with the Gold Dust Orphans for copresenting “The Rocky Horror Show.” The Gold Dust Orphans landed a total of four nominations, as did Company One and Lyric Stage Company.

Three theaters swept one category apiece. Any award for outstanding actor at a large theater will be a win for the Huntington: Richard Clothier (“Richard III”), Yusef Bulos (“Sons of the Prophet”), and Jason Bowen (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) are the nominees. All possible winners for solo performance played at ArtsEmerson: Laurie Anderson (“Delusion”), Yves Jacques (“The Andersen Project”), and Robbie McCauley (“Sugar”). And the contenders for the midsize-theater directing prize are all from SpeakEasy: Larry Coen (“The Divine Sister”), David Connolly (“The Drowsy Chaperone”), and David R. Gammons (“Red”).

Competing for outstanding director at a large theater are Steven Maler for “All’s Well That Ends Well” at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Zimmerman for “Candide” at the Huntington, and last year’s winner in the category, ART artistic director Diane Paulus, for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”

Her “Porgy and Bess,” which grabbed acting nominations for its stars, Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, is also up for outstanding musical production at a large theater, vying against the Huntington’s “Candide” and North Shore Music Theatre’s “Legally Blonde.”

Nominees for oustanding production at a large theater are Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” and a pair of Huntington shows: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Sons of the Prophet.”

Receiving the Elliot Norton Lifetime Achievement Award at the May 21 ceremony at the Paramount Center will be actor-director-choreographer Tommy Tune, who is scheduled to perform. Kate Snodgrass, artistic director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, will get the prize for sustained excellence, and a special citation will go to Charlestown Working Theater.

Laura Collins-Hughes can be reached at lcollins-hughes@globe.com.
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