The ceremony was rolling along fine until Brooke Shields had to be bleeped after forgetting the lyrics and flubbing an opening song with Harris. "I can do eight performances a week but I can't read a TelePrompTer," she joked.
"The Book of Mormon" went into the Tonys with 14 nominations, one shy of the record held by "The Producers." The show has already been declared the season's best musical by the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League and the New York Drama Critics' Circle.
The musical was the biggest new hit from a Broadway season that saw 42 shows open — 14 musicals, 25 plays and three specials. Box-office grosses soared to $1.08 billion while attendance reached 12.5 million, both up from last season.
If "The Book of Mormon" wins the biggest prize, it would be a considerable achievement for first-time Broadway playwrights Parker and Stone, who created the Emmy Award-winning "South Park" and feature-length films such as "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" and "Team America: World Police."
A mix of high art and low, the Mormon musical pays homage to such stalwarts as "The King and I" and "The Lion King," and references diarrhea, AIDS ravaged villages and sex with babies. A Mormon sacred book finds its way into a leading character's rectum.
This year's Tonys are on Manhattan's Upper West Side after the ceremony was forced to leave its longtime home at Radio City Music Hall because Cirque du Soleil moved in. Tony producers picked the 3,000-seat Beacon Theatre, which has only about half as many seats as Radio City. CBS is televising the event.
If CBS censors will be on high alert thanks to the often foul lyrics of "The Book of Mormon," they'll be happy about one decision. Stephen Adly Guirgis' play "The Motherf---- With the Hat" will be referred to simply as "The Mother With the Hat."
AP Television Writer Frazier Moore and National Writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.
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