"Book of Mormon," "War Horse" big winners at Tony Awards

From left, Norbert Leo Butz, best leading actor in a musical winner, Sutton Foster, best leading actress in a musical, and Mark Rylance, best leading actor in a play, pose with their awards in the press room at the 65th annual Tony Awards on June 12, 2011, in New York. Pictures: 2011 Tony Awards red carpet Pictures: Tony Awards show highlights Special section: Tony Awards
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Frances McDormand, Norbert Leo Butz, Nikki M. James and Sutton Foster, from left, at the 2011 Tony Awards.

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Trey Parker thanked Joseph Smith for helping him write "The Book of Mormon" as Parker accepted the award for Best Musical Sunday night at the Tony Awards.

The profane and hysterical musical was the big winner of the evening. The show, the brainchild of "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez of "Avenue Q," snagged honors for best musical, best book, best direction of a musical, best score, best featured actress and four technical awards.

"War Horse" and "The Normal Heart" won best play and best play revival, respectively.

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play went to Mark Rylance for "Jerusalem." Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical was Norbert Leo Butz for playing Carl Hanratty in "Catch Me If You Can."

Sutton Foster won for best actress in a musical and gave a tearful speech. "It doesn't feel like a job," she said of the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes," which won best musical revival and earned Kathleen Marshall an award for her choreography.

Frances McDormand was declared the best leading actress in a play for playing a South Boston blue-collar woman who reconnects with a high school boyfriend in David Lindsay-Abaire play "Good People." She accepted the prize wearing a jean jacket.

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.

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. "We quite like it when people cry," Morris cracked backstage.

Nikki M. James, who plays a potential love interest to a pair of missionaries who travel to Uganda in "The Book of Mormon," 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.

Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" won the best revival prize and two actors from the AIDS drama -- 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.

"It's the proudest moment of my career. Being involved in something this important is, I think,   a once-in-a-career opportunity," said Barkin. Hickey warned his family in Texas that they'd better not be watching the Heat-Mavericks game instead of the Tonys.

Kramer's historic play about the beginning of an epidemic that has killed millions won the Tony 26 years after it was first mounted at the Public Theater. "Learn from it and carry on the fight," he said. "Our day will come."

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."

Away from the television cameras, "The Book of Mormon" won for orchestration, sound design, scenic design of a musical, score and book of a musical. "War Horse" won for best sound design of a play and best scenic design of a play, and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" got the costume award for flamboyant fantasies created by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.

Host Neil Patrick Harris began the show at the Beacon Theatre with an exuberant, tongue-in-cheek song about how Broadway isn't just for gay people any more. The number featured a bevy of dancing nuns, sailors, flight attendants and Mormons: "Attention every breeder, you're invited to the theater!" He later mocked "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," sang with Hugh Jackson and rode one of the puppet horses of "War Horse."

The ceremony was rolling along fine until Brooke Shields had to be bleeped after forgetting the lyrics and flubbing an opening song with Harris. "I can do eight performances a week but I can't read a TelePrompTer," she joked.

"The Book of Mormon" went into the Tonys with 14 nominations, one shy of the record held by "The Producers." The show has already been declared the season's best musical by the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League and the New York Drama Critics' Circle.

The musical was the biggest new hit from a Broadway season that saw 42 shows open -- 14 musicals, 25 plays and three specials. Box-office grosses soared to $1.08 billion while attendance reached 12.5 million, both up from last season.