Two actors from the revival of the AIDS drama "The Normal Heart" — Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey — won the first two acting Tony Awards on a night that promised to be a big one for a musical that sometimes jokes about AIDS — "The Book of Mormon."
Barkin won the award Sunday night for best actress in a featured role in a play and Hickey took home the male equivalent honor for their blistering performances in Larry Kramer's AIDS drama.
"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, who was making her Broadway debut. "The Normal Heart" also won the Tony Award for best play revival.
"War Horse" won the Tony Award for best play. A World War I epic from the National Theatre of Great Britain, the play melded human actors with life-size puppets, creating a visually stunning story about a boy and his favorite horse that left grown-ups in tears.
"The Book of Mormon" took an early lead at the awards. The best direction of a musical award went to Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, and the musical snagged honors for best book, best featured actress and two technical awards. The show is one of the hottest in town.
The top directing prize for a play went to Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris for "War Horse."
Host Neil Patrick Harris began the Beacon Theatre show 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!"
The Associated Press