'Book of Mormon' musical wins 9 Tony Awards

By Mark Kennedy

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 12 2011 10:50 p.m. MDT

NEW YORK — The profane and hysterical "The Book of Mormon" took home nine Tony Awards on Sunday, including the prize for best musical, a considerable achievement for a pair of first-time Broadway playwrights known more for their raunchy cartoons featuring potty-mouthed kids.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the Emmy Award-winning "South Park," found a kindred soul in Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the Tony-winning "Avenue Q," and all three found themselves with plenty of awards when they collaborated to mock Mormons and send-up Broadway itself.

The show, which netted honors for best musical, best book, best direction of a musical, best score, best featured actress and four technical awards, came in with a leading 14 nominations and was the heavy favorite for the top musical prize.

"War Horse" — a World War I tale about horses told with puppets and actors — won five Tonys, including the best prize award. The revival of "The Normal Heart" and "Anything Goes" both won three each.

Mark Rylance won the best acting award for a play for his powerful role of Johnny "Rooster" Byron in Jez Butterworth's "Jerusalem." Just as he did three years ago when he won for "Boeing-Boeing," Rylance quoted a poem by Louis Jenkins, an obscure poet from Minnesota.

"Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot-making or driftwood lamps," he said to the bemused crowd. When asked later why he had recited the poem, he said, "I don't know. I was getting a little bored."

Norbert Leo Butz won for best actor in a musical. Butz, who plays a frumpy FBI agent hot on the heels of a con man in "Catch Me If You Can" took home his second Tony. His previous win was in 2005 for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

Sutton Foster won for best actress in a musical and gave a tearful speech. "It doesn't feel like a job," she said of the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes," which also won best musical revival and earned Kathleen Marshall an award for best choreography.

Frances McDormand was declared the best leading actress in a play for portraying a South Boston blue-collar woman who reconnects with a high school boyfriend in David Lindsay-Abaire play "Good People."

The best direction of a musical award went to Casey Nicholaw and Parker for "The Book of Mormon." Parker — as well as co-writers Stone and Lopez — later returned to the stage to accept the Tony for the best book of a musical.

Collecting the best musical prize, a subdued Parker, who tied Josh Logan of "South Pacific" with four Tonys in one evening — said he'd be remiss if he didn't thank his late book co-writer — Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion.

"You did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!" Parker said looking skyward and holding up his award.

The top directing prize for a play went to Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris for the weepy British import "War Horse." "We quite like it when people cry," Morris said.

Nikki M. James, who plays a potential love interest to the pair of missionaries who travel to Uganda in "The Book of Mormon," dedicated the award to her dad, who died while she was in high school, and to her nephew Ozzie, who was born with kidney problems.

The show is one of the hottest in town and James said even cast members are having trouble getting tickets for their friends and family. "It's amazing to know you're going to walk out there every night and know you're going to see a house full of people," she said.

Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" won the best revival prize and two actors from the AIDS drama — Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey — also won. Barkin, making her Broadway debut, was declared the best actress in a featured role in a play, while Hickey took home best actor.

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