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Tony Award nominations 2013: Hudson Valley stars score major nods

Roald Dahl's

Roald Dahl's "Matilda The Musical." Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

The Cyndi Lauper-scored "Kinky Boots" garnered a leading 13 Tony Award nominations Tuesday, with the British import "Matilda: The Musical" close behind with 12 -- and both Broadway shows feature Westchester talent.

Eastchester native Kenneth Posner, who was nominated last year for "Other Desert Cities" and won the Tony Award for 2007's "The Coast of Utopia," this year scored three nominations in the same category: best lighting design in a musical. Posner was nominated for "Kinky Boots," "Pippin" and "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella."

This roster of nominations make 2013 another banner year for Purchase College alums.

Last year, three Purchase graduates, who studied under the late Bill Mintzer, were nominated in the best lighting for a play category: Posner; Posner's childhood friend Jeff Croiter, who won last year for "Peter and the Starcatcher;" and five-time Tony winner Brian MacDevitt.

Sophia Gennusa, a Westchester 9-year-old, and a trio of 10-year-old actresses -- Milly Shapiro, Oona Laurence and Bailey Ryon -- each take turns playing the lead role in "Matilda the Musical." Although not nominated for best lead actress in a musical, they all will be celebrated with a special Tony Honors for Excellence, to "recognize their outstanding performances this season."

Other major nominees with local ties this year include actors Condola Rashad and Danny Burstein, as well as musician Trey Anastasio of Phish fame.

Rashad, who was raised in Mount Vernon, earned her second Tony nomination for best actress in a featured role in a play for "The Trip to Bountiful." Vanessa Williams, a Chappaqua resident, is Rashad's co-star.

Last year Rashad, the daughter of "Cosby Show" star Phylicia Rashad, was nominated in the same category for her role in the production of "Stick Fly."

After learning of her nomination, Rashad tweeted, "Thank you thank you thank you for all of your wonderful wishes ... #IncreasinglyHumbled.. Congratulations @BountifulBway!"

Burstein, a Mount Kisco native, scored a Tony nod for best actor in a featured role in a play for "Golden Boy," making it his fourth Tony nomination in seven years. His last nomination was for best lead actor in a musical for 2012's "Follies."

In an interview with Newsday Westchester this afternoon, Burstein said his latest nomination was "a lovely thing, and completely unexpected."

Predicting with a laugh that he had "absolutely no shot" to win his category, Burstein praised fellow category nominees -- including fellow "Golden Boy" star Tony Shalhoub. Burstein also celebrated the fact that "Golden Boy," despite its short Broadway run from Dec. 6 to Jan. 20, earned more Tony nods than any non-musical this season.

"I am really super-proud of that production," Burstein added. "I've always been really proud of that production, since day one. It was an amazing place to be. And now, I'm just really, really shocked and thrilled [to be nominated]."

Anastasio, who lives in Rockland County, earned his first Tony nomination for best original score for "Hands on a Hardbody."

"Kinky Boots" is based on the 2005 British movie about a real-life shoe factory that struggles until it finds new life in fetish footwear. Lauper's songs and a story by Harvey Fierstein have made it a crowd-pleaser.

"Matilda: The Musical" is a witty adaptation of the novel by Roald Dahl and is true to his bleak vision of childhood as a savage battleground.

Both will compete for the best musical prize with the acrobatic "Bring It On: The Musical" and "A Christmas Story, The Musical," adapted from the holiday movie.

The best-play nominees are Richard Greenberg's "The Assembled Parties," Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy," Colm Toibin's "The Testament of Mary" and Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."

Playwright Larry Kramer, author of "The Normal Heart" and co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award for his "substantial contribution" on behalf of a charity or social service organization.

The nominations were announced in a televised event co-hosted by Tony winner Sutton Foster and "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The awards will be broadcast on CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 9.

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