War Horse, Book of Mormon, Anything Goes, Normal Heart Win 2011 Tony Awards

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12 Jun 2011

Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Book of Mormon, the profane, comic, heartfelt musical about earnest religious missionaries, and War Horse, a puppet-driven tale of an English boy following his beloved horse into World War I, were named Best Musical and Best Play, respectively at the 2011 Tony Awards ceremony on June 12.

The celebration of excellence in the 2010-11 Broadway season also included awards to Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart (Revival of a Play) and Anything Goes (Revival of a Musical). Kathleen Marshall's Choreography of Anything Goes won a Tony, and Sutton Foster won her second Tony as Best Actress in a Musical (after Thoroughly Modern Millie) for playing the evangelist-nightclub singer Reno Sweeney in the Cole Porter musical.

The one Tony for David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People, an acclaimed play about an out-of-work single mother in Boston, went to Frances McDormand, who played the hardscrabble heroine of the comic drama.

Kramer's prescient play about fear, love and activism in the early days of the AIDS first surfaced in the mid-1980s — in time in which it was set. Back then, some called it a rant rather than a play, but the years have been kind to the work — audiences, critics and the Tony voters have embraced the drama about (as director George C. Wolfe has put it) a monster stalking a community.

Kramer, whose anti-hero Ned Weeks is inspired by his own history as an AIDS activist, said in an acceptance speech, "To gay people everywhere, whom I love so, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many of us so needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight. Let them know that we are a very special people, an exceptional people and that our day will come."



Mark Rylance, already a Tony Award winner for Boeing-Boeing, was named Best Actor in a Play for his sweaty, brash performance as former daredevil who spins tall tales in the celebrated three-hour character study Jerusalem by English playwright Jez Butterworth.

Norbert Leo Butz
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Tonys, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, were held at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

By 9 PM Sunday, The Book of Mormon had already won Tonys in five categories, including Best Score, a category buried in the pre-telecast ceremony, allowing only incidental national airtime to the songwriters Robert Lopez, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. (Memo to Tony organizers: without the work of dramatists who write new music and lyrics for the theatre, Broadway wouldn't have original musicals.) By the end of the ceremony (which ran four minutes beyond 11 PM on CBS-TV), The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards out of its 14 nominations — for Musical, Score, Book (Lopez, Stone and Parker), Sound (Brian Ronan), Lighting (Brian MacDevitt), Direction (Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker), Orchestrations (Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus), Actress in a Featured Role (Nikki M. James) and Scenic Design (Scott Pask).

John Larroquette, in his Broadway debut, won a Featured Actor (Musical) Tony for playing a corporate boss J.B. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey took home Tonys for their Featured performances in The Normal Heart — he for playing the AIDS-stricken lover of the play's hero, she for playing the polio-stricken doctor with cautionary words for a community in fear.

Mark Rylance
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Following their earlier Academy Award win for costumes of the original film "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won the Costume Design (Musical) Tony for their outlandish work on the new stage musical version of that property. The show charts the journey of a trio of drag performers making their way across Australia.

Costume designer Desmond Heeley was the only artist from The Importance of Being Earnest to win a 2011 Tony Award. (He last won in 1968 for his costumes and sets for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.) His Victorian frocks designed for Brian Bedford (who plays Lady Bracknell in the Oscar Wilde classic) were first seen in the Bedford-directed 2009 revival of Earnest at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, which inspired this Roundabout Theatre Company staging.

Norbert Leo Butz won a second Tony (after Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) for his turn as an FBI agent in the musical Catch Me If You Can. "This award doesn't mean that I'm the best at anything, but it does mean that I might be the most grateful man in this room tonight," he said in his acceptance speech. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have to be honest with you, this was not an easy one. It was not easy for me."

In addition to the professional workout Butz is giving nightly in a knockout number ("Don't Break the Rules," seen on the Tony telecast), the time was personally hard for the actor. During the show's 2009 tryout in Seattle, Butz's sister, Teresa, was murdered by a home intruder in the same city. The producers canceled several performances due to the family emergency. "This is for my father…" Butz said. "And for my sister. I love you, Teresa, we remember you every night."

The Book of Mormon — written by the creators of TV's "South Park" (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and the Tony-winning co-songwriter of Avenue Q (Robert Lopez) — is a groundbreaking musical for its mix of intense profanity, social satire, buoyant optimism and tunefulness. Wildly critical of organized religion, it nevertheless pushes the idea of faith being a necessary and useful part of the human experience (and the writers have said as much in interviews). Even the show's most corrupt characters end up being humanized by the bible stories that are conjured in the musical comedy.

Accepting the Best Musical Tony, Parker thanked his late, great co-librettist, the prophet Joseph Smith, who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon faith, in the 19th century. Smith wrote "The Book of Mormon," the bedrock text of the church, which Mormons say is the testament of Jesus Christ's days in ancient North America.

War Horse, a hit at the National Theatre of Great Britain, is inspired by a children's novel about a horse drafted into the British cavalry for active duty in Europe during World War I. Scenes of tranquil life in the English countryside and violence behind enemy lines punctuate the work, as do live music, animated projections and the breathtaking creations of the Handspring Puppet Company, which won a Special Tony this year for the life-size equine puppets that evoke tears and laughter at every performance at Lincoln Center Theater's vast Vivian Beaumont Theater. The company is made up of American performers, directed by the original creative team. Original directors Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris won the Tony for Direction of a Play. A North American tour of the play has already been announced. Nick Stafford penned the stage adaptation of the novel; the property is also the source of a separate film version directed by Steven Spielberg for a late 2011 release.

Here's the tally of 2011 Tony winners:

The Book of Mormon: 9
War Horse: 5
The Normal Heart: 3
Anything Goes: 3
Catch Me If You Can: 1
Good People: 1
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: 1
The Importance of Being Earnest: 1
Jerusalem: 1
Priscilla Queen of the Desert: 1

Nominees and recipients of the 65th Annual Tony Awards follow, with recipients marked in bold and with an asterisk.

2011 TONY AWARD NOMINEES AND RECIPIENTS

Best Musical
*The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can 
The Scottsboro Boys 
Sister Act

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
*Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
*Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
*Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
*Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Revival of a Musical
*Anything Goes
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
 

Best Lighting Design of a Play
*Paule Constable, War Horse
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
*Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon

Best Play
Good People Author: David Lindsay-Abaire
Jerusalem Author: Jez Butterworth
The Motherf**ker with the Hat Author: Stephen Adly Guirgis
*War Horse Author: Nick Stafford

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
Derek McLane, Anything Goes
*Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best Revival of a Play
Arcadia
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Merchant of Venice
*The Normal Heart

Best Book of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Alex Timbers
*The Book of Mormon Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys David Thompson
Sister Act Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
*Rae Smith, War Horse
Ultz, Jerusalem
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Adam Godley, Anything Goes
*John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon

Best Costume Design of a Musical
*Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
*Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice
*Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest
Mark Thompson, La Bête
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday

Best Direction of a Play
*Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice

Best Direction of a Musical
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
*Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
*Christopher Shutt, War Horse

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
Billy Crudup, Arcadia
*John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
*Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
*Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
*Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

*The Book of Mormon
Music & Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone

The Scottsboro Boys
Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb

Sister Act
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek

Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
*Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can

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Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Athol Fugard (Recipient)
Philip J. Smith (Recipient)

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago, IL) (Recipient)

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Eve Ensler (Recipient)

Special Tony Award
Handspring Puppet Company (Recipient)

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
William Berloni (Recipient)
The Drama Book Shop (Recipient)
Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (Recipient)

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For more information visit www.TonyAwards.com.