Hello! Today is the final day of the 2012 Tony Awards Clip Countdown, so be sure to see Neil Patrick Harris host Broadway's night of nights tonight on CBS at 8 PM! In honor of it being the most recent Tony Award-winning Best Musical and also the most visible pop culture phenomenon in musical theatre since WICKED, the final spotlight goes to the ribald and risqué Trey Parker/Matt Stone/Bobby Lopez collaboration THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Love it, like it or leave it, THE BOOK OF MORMON is a huge hit. To say that it is the biggest hit since WICKED and THE PRODUCERS would be discounting the impact of THE BOOK OF MORMON on modern Broadway and denying the power of producer Scott Rudin - he is, in many ways, the contemporary David Merrick. On that dubious note, while the ticket prices are a new Broadway high and even the premium tickets available are rare, we still cannot deny that the national press and audience adulation for the show is something to be celebrated as fans of the theatrical form, if only because so much attention has been brought to Broadway as a result of the show. Plus, it is going out on tour so a audiences all across America will have a chance to say, "Hello!" After all, anyone who is or was once a fan of Comedy Central's long-running animated series SOUTH PARK is well aware that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are Broadway babies at heart - and look no further than their outright full-blown movie musical feature films CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL! and SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT for more proof of that - but even the most ardent admirer of their work could not have predicted that THE BOOK OF MORMON would work so unusually, undoubtedly well and exist as such a finely crafted tuner. Like capturing lightning in a bottle, Casey Nicholaw and the creative team masterminded a modern musical theatre classic - and the original cast, particularly Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad and last year's Tony Award winner, Nikki M. James, were perfection - and made something even greater than the sum of its parts. Every element fit into place - not unlike everything from the bones on to the tie-clips in Ann Roth's inspired and incomparable costume design - and the well-oiled machine runs as smoothly now as ever, more than an entire season later, with the understudies now replacing the originals in the lead roles as they move on to other mediums (both Rannells and Gad have TV pilots that have been picked up for the Fall) and show solid proof that Broadway is still able to produce crossover stars and the right show still can connect with the culture at large if it is unique, special and solid enough.
Now, see Andrew Rannells performing his big breakout ballad from THE BOOK OF MORMON, "I Believe", as introduced by Stephen Colbert on the 2011 Tony Awards.
Now, check out the post-2011-Tony-Awards TV commercial for THE BOOK OF MORMON, boasting its nine wins.
While THE BOOK OF MORMON is a staggering stage success the likes of which only comes along once or twice a decade - if that - tonight's Tony Awards telecast is sure to have its share of surprises and upsets given the tight races and fierce competition in almost all categories, particularly Best Musical. Will ONCE be number one or will NEWSIES be crowned King of New York? Will Jeremy jetee over Steve for the Best Actor trophy? Will Laura or Jan win out over Audra? Plus, what will Neil Patrick Harris do to top last year - rumor has it that the opening number will be none other than a reworked version of the unforgettable BOOK OF MORMON opener, "Hello"?! Tune in to CBS at 8 PM to find out!
BONUS: As has become tradition in this yearly countdown, for the final featured clip, here is Michael Crawford performing the all-too-apropos Andrew Lloyd Webber paean to the most sacred day of the week for most gypsies and Broadway babies - and the only day ever for the Tony Awards - Sunday; with "Tell Me On A Sunday" on THE Johnny Carson SHOW.