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4 girls in 'Matilda' on Broadway snubbed by Tony Awards; will not compete for best actress

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The members of the Tony Award nominations committee better look out: They've snubbed four girls who play a tough little telekinetic heroine on Broadway.

Administrators for the awards met Friday for the fourth and final time to determine the eligibility of certain shows and ruled that the quartet of actresses who rotate as the lead in "Matilda" are not eligible in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical category.

The group did rule that the four — Sophia Gennusa, 9; Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro, all 10 — will receive Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre, a non-competitive commendation. "The Tony Awards Administration Committee wishes to recognize their outstanding performances this season," the committee said in a statement.

A Tony Award representative explained Friday that the four girls were not deemed eligible in the category of Best Actress because of the number of their individual performances each week. Each plays the role twice a week.

The use of four rotating Matildas in New York echoes the way it was done in Britain, to huge success. All four actresses in London were jointly declared best actress at the Olivier Awards, the most prestigious honour in British theatre.

The move by the Tonys seems strange since the three boys rotating the lead of "Billy Elliot the Musical" — David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish — all took home a joint best actor Tony in 2006.

The producers of the show were diplomatic in their response: "The 'Matilda' producers appreciate the decision of the Tony Administration committee and The Tony Honors."

The four girls — one from New York City, two from the surrounding region and one from Pennsylvania — are each making their Broadway debuts. Reviews for the show have been excellent, with raves for each of the Matildas.

The show "Matilda," which opened April 11 at Shubert Theatre, is a witty musical adaptation of the beloved novel by Roald Dahl and is true to his bleak vision of childhood as a savage battleground.

The 2 1/2-hour musical tells the story of a precocious and slightly telekinetic Matilda Wormwood, an English girl who loves to read despite the disdain of her sleazy parents. She is befriended by a kindly teacher but opposed by the fearsome school headmistress.

Tony nominations are Tuesday and the award ceremony in June 9.

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Online:

http://www.matildathemusical.com

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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