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'Book of Mormon' stars Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells clash over Tony Award [Video]

May 16, 2011 | 12:48 pm

MormLet's pray they behave in a Christian manner, those two rascally stars of "Book of Mormon" who are nominated against each other at the Tony Awards for lead actor. Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells are cheeky fellows, as is evident in our video chat below. It's hard to say which one may outfox the other to win.

Of the five experts polled by Gold Derby, one (Harry Haun, Playbill) picked Gad to prevail. The others backed Tony Sheldon ("Priscilla Queen of the Desert"), but most gurus believe it's really a very close neck-and-neck-and-neck race.

Unlike best musical; every Tonys pundit on the planet is betting on "Book of Mormon" to sweep that contest. But there's much suspense over whether or not any of its stars will get to go along for the ride. Over the last 10 years, the lead stars of a winning musical also claimed a Tony Award for their performance 50% of the time: the three little leapers in "Billy Elliot" (2009), John Lloyd Young in "Jersey Boys" (2006), Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur in "Hairspray" (2003), Sutton Foster in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (2002) and Nathan Lane in "The Producers" (2001). The other five best musicals all had lead performers nominated, but they lost.

Having two costars in one category does not result in automatic loss because they split the vote. That's a common awards myth. Nathan Lane beat "The Producers" costar Matthew Broderick. Last year, Douglas Hodge won best musical actor over "La Cage aux Folles" costar Kelsey Grammer and Scarlett Johansson won best featured actress in a play over "A View from the Bridge" costar Jessica Hecht.

Of the "Mormon" costars, Gad has the more cartoonish, funny role as an inept, buffoonish missionary trying to convert tribal folk in Uganda to the Church of Latter Day Saints. His role gets all the laughs and moves the story. But Rannells has a much more emotionally etched part as Gad's upright, uptight missionary sidekick. He's got the most lines and most songs, particularly the big anthems that stir the heart. As Tony candidates, they both have strong, equal plusses.


L.A. Times review: 'The Book of Mormon'

Tony Award predictions: Top eight races

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: "Book of Mormon." Credit: Eugene O'Neill Theatre