Broadway is “not just for gays anymore!” That was the conclusion of Neil Patrick Harris, the Tony Awards’ master of ceremonies (who is, by the way, openly gay), as the gleefully irreverent “The Book of Mormon” swept up nine prizes on Sunday, including best musical.
“Mormon,” a runaway Broadway hit created by South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone, traded hitherto tame dance numbers for jokes about AIDS, Africa and God himself. (“F___ you, God, in the a__,” go the lyrics of one of the show’s ditties.)
Though “Mormon” was the star of the evening, the British play “War Horse”, noted for its spectacular life-size equine puppets, won five prizes, including best play and best director. A year from now, “War Horse” may also be an Oscar winner with Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation generating considerable buzz.
A series of theater veterans – Norbert Leo Butz (“Catch Me if You Can”), Sutton Foster (“Anything Goes”) and Mark Rylance (“Jerusalem”) – scooped up Tonys for lead performances. Meanwhile, Hollywood stars who took to the stage this year were largely ignored, save for Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, who accepted the award for best actress in a play (“Good People”) in a distinctly unglamorous denim jacket and glasses.
In fitting counterpoint to South Park-style satire, the Tony for best revival was awarded to “The Normal Heart,” an Off Broadway show from 1985 chronicling the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York.
Though “Mormon” failed to best the 12-Tony record set by “The Producers,” its creators seemed pleased with their night out. “You did it, Joseph, you got the Tony!” crowed Parker, thanking his muse, Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon faith in the 19th century. Whether Smith would share Parker’s delight is a matter of debate.