NEW YORK — The profane and hysterical "The Book of Mormon" took an early lead at the Tony Awards tonight, snagging honors for best book, best direction of a musical, best featured actress and two technical awards.
Nikki M. James, who plays a potential love interest in the musical about Mormon missionaries who travel to Uganda, dedicated the award to her dad, who died while she was in high school, and to her nephew Ozzie, who was born with kidney problems.
The show is one of the hottest in town and James said even cast members are having trouble getting tickets for their friends and family. "It's amazing to know you're going to walk out there every night and know you're going to see a house full of people," she said.
The best direction of a musical award went to Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker for "The Book of Mormon." Parker — as well as co-writers Matt Stone and Robert Lopez — later returned to the stage to accept the Tony for the best book of a musical.
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The top directing prize for a play went to Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris for the weepy "War Horse," a World War I tale about horses told with puppets and actors.
Two actors from the revival of the AIDS drama "The Normal Heart" — Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey — also won. Barkin, making her Broadway debut, was declared the best actress in a featured role in a play, while Hickey took home the male equivalent honor.
John Larroquette, in his Broadway debut, won the award for best actor in a featured role in a musical for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." He thanked his co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who was not nominated, saying that without the "Harry Potter" star he'd be "home, sitting in my underwear, watching this on television."
"The Book of Mormon" won two awards before the telecast even began — best orchestration and best original score. Kathleen Marshall won for best choreography for "Anything Goes." "War Horse" won for best sound design of a play and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" got the costume award.
"The Book of Mormon" went into tonight's Tonys with 14 nominations, one shy of the record held by "The Producers." The show, by the creators of "South Park" and "Avenue Q," has already been declared the season's best musical by the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League and the New York Drama Critics' Circle.