2001 TONY AWARDS SPOTLIGHT: Nominees for Leading Actor in a Play

Tony Awards   2001 TONY AWARDS SPOTLIGHT: Nominees for Leading Actor in a Play Sean Campion, Stones in His Pockets
One of the duo of actors that made this London import such a success in New York. Campion boasts many credits at such esteemed English and Irish theatres as the Abbey, the Peacock, the Gaiety, the Royal National Theatre and the Dubblejoint Theatre Co. He most recently played Vladimir to Stones co-star Conleth Hill's Estragon in Waiting for Godot at the Lyric Theatre.

Sean Campion, Stones in His Pockets
One of the duo of actors that made this London import such a success in New York. Campion boasts many credits at such esteemed English and Irish theatres as the Abbey, the Peacock, the Gaiety, the Royal National Theatre and the Dubblejoint Theatre Co. He most recently played Vladimir to Stones co-star Conleth Hill's Estragon in Waiting for Godot at the Lyric Theatre.

Richard Easton, The Invention of Love
Easton has been absent from the New York stage for several years, but returned last season with an impressive performance in Waste at Theatre for a New Audience. He followed that up by playing the crusty, older A.E. Housman to Robert Sean Leonard's yearning college-age Housman in Stoppard's cerebral play. Easton's many credits, on both sides of the ocean, include Exit the King, The Misanthrope, Cherry Orchard, Hamlet and Cock-a-doodle Dandy, all on Broadway, and, in London, Edgar in Lear, Claudio in Much Ado and Fagin in Oliver!

Conleth Hill, Stones in His Pockets
The other Irish movie extra in Marie Jones' play. He won the 2001 Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in Stones in His Pockets. His theatre credits include The Suicide, Tall Tales, Playboy of the Western World, Little Shop of Horrors, The Importance of Being Earnest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Xmas Eve Can Kill You, A Whistle in the Dark and Waiting for Godot, all for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, where he is an associate artist.

Brian Stokes Mitchell, King Hedley II
Mitchell is a Tony nomination machine lately, getting a nod for Ragtime and then winning the prize for last season's Kiss Me, Kate. The title role in King Hedley II is the first dramatic part in some time for Mitchell, who has become known primarily as a leading man of the Broadway musical stage.

Gary Sinise, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
A theatre idol of the regional scene, Steppenwolf Theatre Company founder Sinise has had a role in many of his company's Broadway transfers. He starred as Tom Joad in 1990's The Grapes of Wrath and directed Sam Shepard's Buried Child in 1996, receiving Tony nominations for his work on both productions. Still, his most famous New York stage performance was Off-Broadway, in the 1982 Steppenwolf revival of True West. Analysis: Though most critics agree that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is about the tamest thing the rough-and-tumble Steppenwolf has ever brought to New York, there's a general feeling that it's time to reward Sinise's great talent and vast accomplishments in the theatre. And while the production may be sweet and dated, Sinise's performance as McMurphy is one of his full-tilt specialties. The actor's status as a marquis name will help him edge out the admirable Easton (who has already won a few lesser awards) and Mitchell (whose chances are dimmed by having won last year).

—By Robert Simonson