The 2011 Tony Awards: An Unofficial Marketing Event for Book of Mormon Tickets

The 65th annual Tony Awards ran like a typical CBS comedy, few surprises but well produced with enough laughs to keep it interesting. The award show began with a hilarious opening number from Neil Patrick Harris and a few choice guests from the Beacon Theatre main floor declared (in song) that Broadway is no longer just for the gay anymore. Then the show officially commenced and the presenters began heaping Tony upon Tony in the Book of Mormon’s award basket (I am not sure this actually exists, but how else would you store nine awards during a live broadcast).

Standing at the podium to present the Tony Award for best musical, the last and most anticipated award of the Tony’s, Chris Rock aptly summed up the evening, “This is such a waste of time, it’s like taking a hooker to the dinner.”

The Book of Mormon, of course, had won the Tony Award, just as many had expected. The musical began the night as the favorite and rightfully so. The musical sprang forth from the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone from South Park and Orgazmo fame and Robert Lopez, the mastermind behind Avenue Q. Together they lovingly targeted religion and exposed its flaws, but embraced its powerful message. The lewd and crude brain trust did this so well that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a calibrated response, carefully chiding the musical but seemingly forcibly recognizing its comedic and entertaining value, while celebrating the actual Book of Mormon.

At the end of the evening the Book of Mormon won for the following:

  • Best Musical
  • Best Book of a Musical
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Nikki M. James)
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Scott Pask)
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical (Ann Roth)
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Brian MacDevitt)
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan)
  • Best Direction of a Musical (Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker)
  • Best Orchestrations: (Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus)

While the Book of Mormon celebrated, the producers and creative team of Spider Man cringed for two hours as they became the running gag of the night. Yes, Spider Man unveiled its latest number for the new and improved stage version, which opens June 12, 2011, but mostly Bono, the Edge, and the investors had to sit idly by as Neil Patrick Harris pulled a Tosh.O and put 30 seconds on the board to reel off as many Spidey musical jokes as possible. Bono and the Edge displayed a great sense of humor, noting that “In rock ‘n’ roll deadlines are just lies your manager tells you to get you back in the bus.”

In the end Spider Man Turn Off the Dark may get the last laugh. Despite over 150 preview performances and a book rewrite the musical is still earning over one million dollars a week. The latest Broadway grosses for the week of May 30 through June 5, 2011 show lauded Book of Mormon earning $1,173,580 at 102.4 percent capacity and Spider Man earning $1,150,208 at 95.8 percent capacity. It easily conceivable for Spider Man Turn Off the Dark tickets to sell at a near Cats level for years to come, while the Book Of Mormon tickets may be theater tickets for a musical production with a much shorter shelf life.