Two Canadians who were up for three trophies between them were shut out at the Tony Awards in New York on Sunday night, while the creators of the potty-mouthed TV show South Park won big with their musical The Book of Mormon.

British-born Canadian actor Brian Bedford, a veteran of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, was up for two awards for his production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

In the category of best revival of a play, he lost to the producers of The Normal Heart, and he was topped by British actor Mark Rylance in Jerusalem for the award for best actor in a play. Bedford's acting nomination was a nod to his turn as the formidable Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's drawing-room farce, and saw him also go up against film star Al Pacino, nominated in the category for his turn in The Merchant of Venice.

Winnipeg-born Joshua Henry was shortlisted for best lead actor in a musical for his role in The Scottsboro Boys, a highly touted production based on a 1930s court case about nine African-American men unjustly accused of attacking two white women. Henry lost to Norbert Leo Butz in Catch Me If You Can, while his show was shut out of the winner's list in all 12 categories where it was nominated.

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South Park crators Matt Stone, left, and Trey Parker cleaned up, taking home seven trophies between them — including a record-tying four for Parker — for their musical The Book of Mormon. ((Jason Kempin/Getty))

By far the biggest winners were South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the force behind the smash hit The Book of Mormon, which garnered a leading 14 nominations and saw Parker take home four awards.

The profane and hysterical Mormon took home nine trophies in all, including the prize for best musical, a considerable achievement for a pair of first-time Broadway playwrights known more for their raunchy cartoons.

Parker and Stone found a kindred soul in Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the Tony-winning musical Avenue Q, and all three collaborated to gently mock Mormons and send up Broadway itself.

Collecting the best musical prize, a subdued Parker, who tied the record with his four Tonys in one evening, said he'd be remiss if he didn't thank his late co-writer — Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion.

"You did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!" Parker said looking skyward and holding up his award.

The show, which netted honors for best musical, best book, best direction of a musical, best score, best featured actress and four technical awards, was the heavy favourite for the top musical prize.

"We know what the best musical is. It's like taking a hooker to dinner," comedian Chris Rock said before reading the nominees and announcing the winner.

5 awards for WW 1 tale

War Horse — a First World War tale about horses told with puppets and actors — won five Tonys, including the best prize award. The Normal Heart and Anything Goes won three each.

Butz, who plays a frumpy FBI agent hot on the heels of a con man in Catch Me If You Can, took home his second Tony. His previous win was in 2005 for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Sutton Foster won for best actress in a musical and gave a tearful speech. "It doesn't feel like a job," she said of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, which also won best musical revival and earned Kathleen Marshall an award for best choreography.

Frances McDormand was declared the best leading actress in a play for portraying a South Boston blue-collar woman who reconnects with a high school boyfriend in David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People.

The best direction of a musical award went to Casey Nicholaw and Parker for The Book of Mormon. Parker — as well as co-writers Stone and Lopez — later returned to the stage to accept the Tony for the best book of a musical.

The top directing prize for a play went to Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris for the weepy British import War Horse. "We quite like it when people cry," Morris cracked backstage.

The Tonys honour the best in Broadway productions. This year's gala, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, was hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris.

List of winners at the 65th annual Tony Awards:

Best Play: War Horse.

Best Musical: The Book of Mormon.

Best Book of a Musical: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon.

Best Revival of a Play: The Normal Heart.

Best Revival of a Musical: Anything Goes.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Mark Rylance, Jerusalem.

Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Frances McDormand, Good People.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Sutton Foster, Anything Goes.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon.

Best Direction of a Play: Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse.

Best Direction of a Musical: Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon.

Best Choreography: Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes.

Best Orchestrations: Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon.

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Rae Smith, War Horse.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon.

Best Costume Design of a Play: Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Paule Constable, War Horse.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon.

Best Sound Design of a Play: Christopher Shutt, War Horse.

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon.

With files from The Associated Press