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'Mormon' musical, 'War Horse' play win big on Broadway

By Alan Duke, CNN
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'The Book of Mormon' wins best musical
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The Book of Mormon'" wins 9 musical Tony awards
  • "War Horse" pulls 5 awards, including best play Tony
  • Neil Patrick Harris hosted the song-and-dance filled broadcast

New York (CNN) -- "The Book of Mormon," a musical satire about religion written by the creators of "South Park," and "War Horse," a British play about a boy's search for his beloved horse, dominated the 65th annual Tony Awards Sunday night.

The apparent predestination of "The Book of Mormon" as the big winner was not lost on comedian Chris Rock before he presented the best musical Tony. "This is such a waste of time," Rock joked. "It's like taking a hooker to dinner."

"The Book of Mormon" got the best musical Tony, along with eight other trophies. The show had been nominated in 14 categories.

What the show lacked in suspense was made up with entertainment as two-time Tony host Neil Patrick Harris guided the three-hour broadcast from Broadway's Beacon Theatre. Harris, who is openly homosexual, opened the show with a tongue-in-cheek number proclaiming "Broadway's not just for gays anymore."

Most of the dozen song-and-dance performances were from nominated musicals, but the leading actors for "Spider-man, Turn Off the Dark" sang a duet from the show that opens on Broadway next Tuesday.

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"War Horse" was the big winner among plays, winning all five categories in which it was nominated -- including the best play Tony. It is the story of a teen's journey to find his horse after it was shipped to France for duty in World War I.

If an award was given for the most emotional and breathless acceptance speech, it might have gone to Nikki M. James, the 30-year-old actress who claimed her first Tony after a decade of work on Broadway.

"They say wrap it up, but I will not leave the stage," James said, well into her acceptance of the best featured actress in a musical Tony. James, who played an African girl in "The Book of Mormon," claimed the only acting award given to the show.

"The Book of Mormon" wins set up what might have been the most unlikely of Tony "thank you" speeches. "It it weren't for you, we wouldn't be here," Trey Parker told fans of his Comedy Central animated series "South Park" as he and Casey Nicholaw accepted the Tony for best direction of a musical.

Later, when Parker accepted the best musical award, he thanked "Joseph Smith, the founder of the Morman religion."

"He couldn't be here tonight, but you did it, Joseph, you got the Tony," Parker said.

John Larroquette now has a Tony to sit on a shelf with his five TV Emmys. The former "Night Court" actor won the best featured actor in a musical for his Broadway debut in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Ellen Barkin, a veteran film and television actress, won the best featured actress in a play Tony for her Broadway debut in "The Normal Heart."

"Performing in 'The Normal Heart' is a very profound experience for me," Barkin said in her acceptance speech. "It's the proudest moment in my career."

Barkin's "Normal Heart" co-star John Benjamin Hickey was given the best featured actor award. The play, which focuses on the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York, was chosen the best play revival.

The best leading actor in a play award went to Mark Rylance for his role as Johnny "Rooster" Byron, a former daredevil motorcyclist in "Jerusalem."

Norbert Leo Butz, who portrays FBI Agent Carl Hanratty in "Catch Me If You Can," captured the best leading actor in a musical Tony. His character chases a con artist, based on the real-life story of Frank Abagnale, Jr.

The best leading actress in a play award was handed to Frances McDormand for her "Good People" role as a struggling out-of-work mother.

Sutton Foster, who won a best actress Tony in 2002 for "Thoroughly Modern Millie," got a second trophy Sunday night. Foster carried home this year's best actress in a musical Tony for "Anything Goes."

"Anything Goes" also won for best musical revival and best choreography.

 
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