By Thom Geier
May 05, 2009 at 05:52 PM EDT

American Idol reject Constantine Maroulis is now a Tony nominee. And Daniel Radcliffe is not. So it goes in the awards race capping a crazy Broadway season that saw the unlikely revival of relics like Chekhov, Ionesco, Beckett, and George W. Bush (as portrayed by Will Ferrell in a hit show that earned a nod for Best Theatrical Event). (For the complete list of nominations, go here, or seek our EW’s Stage hub.) Maroulis rocked hard in the lead role of Rock of Ages, a cheesy jukebox musical of ’80s metal classics — hard enough to nudge out Matt Cavenaugh in West Side Story.

And Mr. Harry Potter, who earned raves for his Broadway debut last fall in the limited-run revival Equus, was beaten out by a slate of stage veterans that included Geoffrey Rush (Exit the King), James Gandolfini, and Jeff Daniels (the latter two for God of Carnage).That category also includes Thomas Sadoski in reasons to be pretty and Raul Esparza in the mercury-poisoning-beleaguered production of Speed-the-Plow. Esparza, incidentally, is only the second person to earn Tony nominations in all four acting categories (following the inimitable Boyd Gaines).

As expected, Angela Lansbury picked up her sixth career Tony nomination for her fleet-footed supporting turn in Blithe Spirit. (She must be considered the front-runner in the category.) Also as expected, Elton John’s Billy Elliot: The Musical earned the most nominations — 15, including best musical and an unusual Lead Actor nomination shared by all three of the boys playing the title role. Oddly, though, the Tonys nominated just one of the two boys who rotates in the role of Billy’s cross-dressing best friend (David Bologna, who played the part on opening night, got the nomination).

But there was less love for other popular musical favorites: 9 to 5 picked up just four nods, including one for Dolly Parton’s score, but was left out of the Best Musical race. (Rock of Ages sneaked into the fourth slot, joining Shrek the Musical and Next to Normal.) And Arthur Laurents, the 90-year-old librettist/director of West Side Story, was snubbed for directing that show’s hit revival.

Some other surprises: All four members of the cast of the comedy God of Carnage earned nominations (in addition to Gandolfini and Daniels, the show features Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis). And four of the six cast members of the three-part comedy revival The Norman Conquests picked up nods in supporting categories. In addition, both of the queens in Mary Stuart (Janet McTeer as the title monarch and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth I) earned lead actress nods. That category is rounded out by Jane Fonda, Parton’s former 9 to 5 movie costar, who’s appearing on Broadway for the first time in 45 years, in 33 Variations. (Notable snubs in that category: Kristin Scott Thomas in The Seagull and Carla Gugino in Desire Under the Elms.)

The awards, to be distributed June 7, promise to be starrier than most Tony broadcasts — particularly if Ferrell shows up (either as himself or as Bush). But this broadcast may mark a watershed moment for Broadway and the Tonys. We’ve seen an invasion of American Idol vets on the Great White Way for several years now, but did anyone expect that Constantine would be the first to be in the running for a Tony?