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Chris O’Dowd and his Of Mice and Men co-star James Franco.

Distinctly Irish feel to 2014 Tony nominations (VIDEOS)

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Chris O’Dowd and his Of Mice and Men co-star James Franco.

The Tony Award nominations, Broadway’s top honors, were announced on Tuesday, and once again there’s quite a bit of Irish and Irish American talent in the final lineup, including first time nominee Chris O’Dowd from Co. Roscommon, up for his starring role in the revival "Of Mice and Men."

"I am beyond thrilled to accept this Tony nomination on behalf of my 'Mice and Men' team. I still haven't got over the honor of being given the part, so I'm now a little worried what this new excitement will lead to. Lock up your bunnies!" O’Dowd said after hearing word of the nomination.

First up are the nominations for Best Play. "All the Way" stars "Breaking Bad’s" Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson, struggling with an unexpected presidency in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. 

"Act One" tells the story of legendary playwright Moss Hart and his struggle to escape poverty for a successful new life in the theater. "Casa Valentina" is playwright Harvey Fierstein’s absorbing story of a private colony for cross-dressing heterosexual men in Catskills the early 1960s. "Mothers and Sons" is playwright Terrence McNally’s meditative and affecting portrait of a mother still raw from the loss of her young gay son and quietly furious with his former lover who has moved on with his life. 

Lastly, "Outside Mullingar" is playwright John Patrick Shanley’s first Ireland-based play, starring Ireland’s own Brian F. O’Byrne, Dearbhla Molloy and Peter Maloney, another big critical and commercial success for the Oscar winning writer. 

Who will win? Terrence McNally for "Mothers and Sons."

In the Best Musical category four shows made the cut. "Aladdin" is Disney’s big budget blockbuster, but its score is so instantly forgettable you’ll be hard set to remember the tune even as it’s being sung. "After Midnight" is the jazz age antidote to Disney’s blandness, set in the 1920s era Harlem Cotton Club where the music and dancing will transport you to a high water mark of the American century.

"Beautiful – The Carole King Musical" tells the story of the successful singer’s rise to stardom, courtesy of songs that are now known to all.  "A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder" is a high-octane inheritance farce with a score to match, and it has received the most Tony nods this season. Lisa O’Hare made a stunning Broadway debut in the show as a five-alarm sex symbol with both a heart and a mind. 

Who will win? "A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder"

Best Revival of a Play is a toss up between Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s "The Cripple of Inishmaan," a critically lauded production of Tennessee Williams’ "The Glass Menagerie" (a show that has never won a Tony in its storied history), another celebrated production of Lorraine Hansberry’s tense drama about racial prejudice in the 1950s "A Raisin in the Sun," and Shakespeare’s perennial "Twelfth Night."

Who will win? "The Glass Menagerie."

The Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play nod is led this year by O’Dowd, whose turn as the learning disabled Lennie in "Of Mice and Men" is so accomplished that it redefines the role for the stage. O’Dowd faces his most serious competition from "Breaking Bad’s" Bryan Cranston in "All the Way."

Who will win? Cranston. 

The Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical is so assured this year that you could almost omit the other contenders. Kelli O’Hara is simply sensational as a lonely housewife in the throes of an unexpected romance in "The Bridges pf Madison County." But she faces a stiff challenge from the all-electric Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin in "A Night With Janis Joplin."

Who will win?  O’Hara.

I’m going to be equally bold about who will win the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. I predict Neil Patrick Harris will flatten the competition for his career defining turn as a transsexual German rock star in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Finally, the competition for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play has three main contenders. Sarah Green is a comedy goldmine in "The Cripple of Inishmaan," but she must face off against the nuanced and delicately funny work of Celia Keenan-Bolger as the hapless Laura in "The Glass Menagerie."

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Finally, Sophie Okonedo delivers an unforgettable performance in "A Raisin in the Sun," leaving this race wide open. "Raisin" castmate Anika Noni Rose could also easily sweep this honor, as could Mare Winninghman for "Casa Valentina."

Who will win? Keenan-Bolger, breaking the five-decade long Tony curse on Williams’ singular play. 

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