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Tony Interview Special: Robert Lopez Reacts to MORMON's 14 Noms and Working with Sutton Foster!

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Yesterday morning, past Tony winners Anika Noni Rose and Matthew Broderick announced the 2011 Tony Awards nominees live from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City. Today, BroadwayWorld talked to this year's nominees to hear their exciting stories of their reactions to the news. THE BOOK OF MORMON composer, lyricist, and book writer Robert Lopez went on the record about his double nomination  and the story of how he became involved with the production!

We all know that you've been through this Tony experience before, but I'm sure it's been a wild ride none-the-less. So tell me about your reaction to the incredible number of nominations that you guys got yesterday.

It's always baffling when your work gets recognized because you're always very hard on yourself and hard on your collaborators and hard on your show, so it's hard to switch gears and suddenly enjoy the moment, but I'm doing my best. It's nice that my wife [Kristin Anderson Lopez] was also nominated for IN TRANSIT by the Drama Desk and Drama League and Outer Critics, and all that stuff. It's been a nice family experience now.  And now I have kids, which totally grounds you- I'm not quite as anxious and bewildered as I was the last time around.

Speaking of the last time around, I know that you came to know your collaborators Matt Stone and Trey Parker because they admired your work on AVENUE Q- tell me more about how you guys decided  to join forces.

Well this was one of my ideas to follow AVENUE Q with, because I thought it would be a great way to say what I wanted to say about religion, which is still the message of the musical even though the story is now something that we worked out together. It wasn't something that was in my head before I met them. They were in town seeing AVENUE Q, because they were checking out the puppet completion (they were right in the middle of working on 'Team America') and meanwhile AVENUE Q was a direct result of the South Park movie coming out. It was this wonderful, hilarious musical where you never wanna stop laughing, and that motivated me to want to do the same thing. I got the idea for AVENUE Q quickly after seeing that movie

So Jeff Marx and I thanked them in our bio and they came to see the show and were completely weirded-out that we had thanked them because they didn't know us. So I went up to them and we had drinks after the show. I t was one of those experiences that you assume would go terribly and that you'll be embarrassed and inarticulate, but you hope that you'll get along great and end up working on something together. And that's what happened! They were inspired by AVENUE Q because it had a heart and it surprised them by being emotional, and they wanted to do that too. And I wanted to go a little bit further into humor- which they know how to do.

Wow. It seems like it was a very tangled web of circumstances!

Yes. All of a sudden there were too many coincidences. It was crazy.

Is there a specific moment in the show that you're particularly fond or proud of?

I'm proud of a bunch of it. But I still remember in "Turn It Off," I never really have staging ideas, but one of my ideas when we were writing that number was how cool it would be if at some point in the number they pulled the light switch off and every light in the theatre went out! And we could just leave the whole audience in the dark while they dance. And that somehow still made it in!

Is there anyone in the theatre community that you're dying to work with in the future?

I would love to work with Sutton Foster! There are zillions of people I would like to work with, and people outside of the theatre too! I like to bring in people - I really enjoyed bringing Matt and Trey into the fold. There are these guys that created the show 'Phineas and Ferb,' and they're very talented. I'd love to work with them. 

THE BOOK OF MORMON, which follows a pair of mismatched Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that's about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get, features Josh Gad as Elder Cunningham, Andrew Rannells as Elder Price, Nikki M. James as Nabalungi, Rory O'Malley as Elder McKinley and Michael Potts as Mafala Hatimbi, with Lewis Cleale, Scott Barnhardt, Justin Bohon,Darlesia Cearcy, Kevin Duda, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Brian Tyree Henry, Clark Johnsen, John Eric Parker, Benjamin Schrader, Michael James Scott, Brian Sears, Jason Michael Snow, Lawrence Stallings, Rema Webb, Maia Nkenge Wilson and Tommar Wilson. The production will also featureGraham Bowen, Ta'Rea Campbell, Jared Gertner, Tyson Jennette and Nick Spangler.

Tickets $137.00 - $59.00 are available at Telecharge.com, by calling Telecharge.com at 212-239-6200 or in person at the Eugene O'Neill box office 230 West 49th Street.

For more information, visit www.bookofmormonbroadway.com.

The American Theatre Wing's 65th Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards, which are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air on CBS on Sunday, June 12th from 8:00 - 11:00 PM (ET/PT time delay)

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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