News Column

'Book of Mormon' Picks Up 9 Tonys

June 13, 2011

By Elysa Gardner


At Sunday night's Tony Awards, Broadway's brightest gathered to celebrate a season notable for funny and poignant new plays and one sassy musical smash big winner The Book of Mormon with a fitting mix of comedy and gravity.

The Mormon conquest added up to nine Tonys in all, including best musical, score, book, direction and featured actress. Accepting the musical award, Trey Parker, who crafted the libretto and songs with his South Park partner Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, thanked a co-writer "who passed away": Mormon founder Joseph Smith. "You won the Tony, Joseph!"

The emotionally charged War Horse beat a couple of acclaimed American plays, Good People and The Mother------ With the Hat, for best play, and won for direction and scenic, lighting and sound design.

The first Broadway production of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's semi-autobiographical account of the early AIDS era, was another notable victor, collecting awards for best revival as well as featured actor and actress. Broadway newbie Ellen Barkin, who won the latter, called the production "the proudest moment of my career."

Stage and screen veteran John Benjamin Hickey, who also collected his first Tony for The Normal Heart, spoke with similar fervor. "The fact that so many young gay people and straight people come to see (Heart) now and are politically motivated by it speaks to the majesty of this play," Hickey told reporters.

Good People star Frances McDormand won for best actress in a play. Musical-theater darling Sutton Foster earned her second Tony for Anything Goes, which was named best revival. Foster thanked boyfriend Bobby Cannavale, a nominee for Hat, "who has changed my life."

Jerusalem's Mark Rylance and Catch Me If You Can's Norbert Leo Butz each won a second Tony, for lead actor in a play and musical, respectively.

Host Neil Patrick Harris got the proceedings off to a giddy start with the deliciously irreverent production number It's Not Just for Gays Anymore.

The evening didn't go by without a few jokes aimed at the season's big non-opener: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. At one point, Harris timed himself while taking jabs at the beleaguered musical, finally due to open Tuesday. ("No audience members were harmed in the making of this musical yet!")

Spider-Man composer/lyricists Bono and Edge smiled and applauded gamely.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2011

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