Offbeat
1:31 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

'The Book of Mormon' gets 14 Tony Award nominations

The broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" led the field of Tony Award nominees with 14 nominations.

The musical, written by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, may seem like a surprising choice, considering its liberal use of profanity and controversial religious content.

The Associated Press (via MLive) reports:

“The Book of Mormon” nabbed a leading 14 Tony Award nominations Tuesday, earning the profane musical one nod short of the record for most nominations and putting it in the driver’s seat when the awards are handed out next month.

An unlikely hit about two Mormon missionaries who find more than they bargained for in Africa, the musical was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of Comedy Central’s irreverent “South Park,” and Robert Lopez, co-creator of the equally irreverent Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q.” All got nominations.

“The Book of Mormon” has been a critical and box-office darling even without big-name stars and has tapped into a decidedly un-Broadway vein with songs about AIDS and one man’s loud lament about having maggots in his scrotum.

“This is a brand of humor that very much existed in our culture — on television and films,” said Andrew Rannells, who won a best leading actor in a musical nomination. “It was just not reflected on Broadway. Obviously, there’s a huge audience for this so why shouldn’t it be a musical?”

On the animated series “South Park,” about a group of potty-mouthed school kids in Colorado, Parker and Stone have lampooned everything and everybody from Jesus to Saddam Hussein to Barbra Streisand to Scientology to Tiger Woods to New Jersey. And they’ve mocked The Church of Latter-day Saints on the Comedy Central TV show, too, mostly by showing Mormons as relentlessly cheery.

“This is dangerous in the best sense. People are excited when they sit down in those seats because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Rory O’Malley, who won a nomination for best actor in a featured role for “Mormon.”

As for the Mormons, the church would not add to the comment they first issued when the musical opened: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

"The Scottsboro Boys" came in second, with 12 nominations. All of this year's nominees were announced yesterday.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom