The revival of Jesus Christ Superstar by Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival is in the running for New York's Tony Awards.

Actors Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons announced the nominees for the prestigious theatre honour early Tuesday.

Superstarwhich was a hit at Stratford in 2011 before moving on to two U.S. runs, picked up a pair of nominations: best revival of a musical and best performance by a featured actor in a musical for Josh Young, who earned widespread praise for his turn as Judas Iscariot.

The Des McAnuff production of Superstar faces competition from Evita, Follies, and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess in the musical revival category.

Meanwhile, Young — who recently returned to the stage after a bout of laryngitis — faces competition for the featured musical actor trophy from Phillip Boykin (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess),  Michael Cerveris (Evita), David Allan Grier (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) and Michael McGrath (Nice Work If You Can Get It).

Superstar also earned two Drama Desk nominations last week.

Kudos for movie-inspired musical

The new musical Oncebased on the hit indie romance film about a Czech flower seller and an Irish street musician, earned a leading 11 nominations, including best new musical, best musical actor and actress (for stars Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti) and best book of a musical.

Selected Tony nominees:
  • Best play: Clybourne Park; Other Desert Cities; Peter and the Starcatcher; Venus in Fur.
  • Musical: Leap of Faith; Newsies; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Once.
  • Play revival: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; Gore Vidal's The Best Man; Master Class; Wit.
  • Musical revival: Evita; Follies; The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess; Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • Actor, play: James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal's The Best Man; Frank Langella, Man and Boy; John Lithgow, The Columnist.
  • Actress, play: Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur; Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow; Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities; Linda Lavin, The Lyons; Cynthia Nixon, Wit.
  • Actor, musical: Danny Burstein, Follies; Jeremy Jordan, Newsies; Steve Kazee, Once; Norm Lewis, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess; Ron Raines, Follies.
  • Actress, musical: Jan Maxwell, Follies; Audra McDonald, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess; Cristin Milioti, Once; Kelli O'Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It; Laura Osnes, Bonnie & Clyde.
  • Direction, play: Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors; Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park; Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher.
  • Direction, musical: Jeff Calhoun, Newsies; Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It; Diane Paulus, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess; John Tiffany, Once.

"I think it's a universal message about love. Not just between two people, but a love of music, a love of your country, how we share things as people," actor Kazee said.

"There are moments that are just snapshots in your life, but they stay with you forever. We all have those moments."

The stage adaptation was praised for capturing the spirit of the original low-budget movie, which scored original co-stars, musician and songwriters Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, a 2007 best song Oscar for the ballad Falling Slowly. 

Organizers spread out nominations

Unlike previous years, however, no one show dominated the list of Tony contenders.

Two other high-profile musicals — the controversial Diane Paulus-directed revival The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It, hit director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall's mash-up musical blending classic Gershwin songs — were also top contenders, each receiving 10 nominations.   Peter and the Starcatcher, about the origins of Peter Pan, was the top play contender with nine nominations.

Other shows vying in multiple categories for the New York theatre honour include Disney's movie-inspired musical Newsies and the fall revival of Follies, each of which earned eight nods.

Though a blockbuster at the box office, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — at $75 million US, Broadway's most expensive show — earned just two nominations: for best scenic design and best costume. 

Special award-winners this year include actors Bernadette Peters and Hugh Jackman, as well as The Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, D.C.

The 66th annual Tony Awards gala, hosted by stage and screen star Neil Patrick Harris, will be broadcast by CBS from New York's Beacon Theatre on June 10.

With files from The Associated Press