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'War Horse,' 'Mormon,' 'Heart' win Tonys

In this theater publicity image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown,

In this theater publicity image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Andrew Rannells, center, performs with an ensemble cast in "The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in Manhattan. Photo Credit: AP

"The Book of Mormon," the dirty-talking hit musical comedy, cleaned up big time at the 65th annual Tony Awards Sunday night at the Beacon Theatre, winning nine major awards including best musical.

"War Horse," Nick Stafford's heart-tugging World War I spectacle featuring massive puppet horses, won the best play; the show's Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott won the Tony for best direction of a play.

"Mormon" began its anticipated cleanup by winning best directing awards for Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. "I really want to thank 'South Park' fans," said Parker. "If it weren't for you guys, we wouldn't be here."

The show's Nikki M. James, who won best featured actress in a musical, lauded the production for "changing the face of the American musical theater." The musical also took the Tony for best score (by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez), book and orchestrations.

"The Normal Heart," the searing production of Larry Kramer's 1985 AIDS landmark, won for best revival of a play. Featured actress and actor Tonys went to the show's Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey, both of whom spoke of the play's impact.

"Performing in 'The Normal Heart' is a profound experience for me . . . it has transformed me, not just as an actor, but as a human being," said Barkin. Hickey thanked Kramer, saying the play is a reminder, 30 years later, that "the war is not over. Those of us still standing can never repay you."

As expected, "Anything Goes" won best revival of a musical, beating out the only other nominee, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which took featured actor in a musical for John Larroquette in his Broadway debut.

"Anything Goes" also brought Sutton Foster a Tony as best actress in a musical. Best actor in a musical went to Norbert Leo Butz for "Catch Me If You Can."

Frances McDormand won best actress in a play for her raw performance as a woman stuck in her social class in David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People." Mark Rylance won best actor for his bigger-than-life portrayal of a lifelong misfit in Jez Butterworth's "Jerusalem."

The presentation got off to an edgy, satirical start on CBS with host Neil Patrick Harris in a big production number, featuring cameos from audience members like Brooke Shields and Bobby Cannavale, that reassured America that Broadway's "not just for gays anymore."

Here are some other memorable moments:

DYNAMIC DUO: Hugh Jackman and Harris had an award-host smackdown with a medley that jumped from "Annie Get Your Gun" to the opening dance from "A Chorus Line." We give it to Jackman for this knock at the Tony's move from Radio City to the much smaller Beacon: "I only play the big rooms."

ROCKING THE HOUSE: Bono and The Edge, whose much-delayed "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" missed the Tony eligibility deadline by a mile, introduced Reeve Carney (Spidey) and Jennifer Damiano (Mary Jane). But first, Bono said, "The last couple of years really gave us a great education, particularly how hard you people work."

BAD GIRL: In a season with an unprecedented amount of rough language, the person who got bleeped the most was presenter Brooke Shields. Brooke Shields?

WINDOW DRESSING: Who better to introduce the cast of the current revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" than Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick, who together, said Morse, put in a collective 2,000-plus hours as the show's lead, window washer J. Pierrepont Finch, the role now played by Daniel Radcliffe.

 

WEB TV: Making jokes about "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" would be "too easy" said Harris, who then did just that. Among the zingers:"Pretty soon it will be called Spider-Man turn off the lawsuits."

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