NEW YORK (Reuters) - "The Book of Mormon," a musical comedy skewering many classes of people, was nominated for 14 Tony Awards on Tuesday, potentially making it the most celebrated Broadway show since "The Producers" won 12 of 15 nominations in 2001.
The show from the creators of television's animated satire "South Park" and the previous Broadway hit "Avenue Q" has won critical acclaim and sold-out houses with the story of Mormon missionaries in Africa. It has skirted significant criticism about racial and religious insensitivity by virtue of its humor.
Tony Award winners Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose, best known for her role in the Broadway production of "Caroline, or Change," announced the nominations at Lincoln Center.
The Tony Awards will take place at the Beacon Theater in New York on Sunday, June 12.
The nominees were selected by a 22-person nominating committee, while the award winners in 26 categories will be selected by 824 theater professionals.
"Mormon" was followed by "The Scottsboro Boys" with 12 nominations for the musical based on the 1930s case in which nine black men were unjustly accused of attacking two white women on a train in Alabama.
Two musical revivals followed. "Anything Goes" gained nine nominations, led by Best Actress nominee Sutton Foster, and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" had eight, though not for star Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame.
Shakespeare's comedy "The Merchant of Venice" gained seven nominations, including a Best Actor nomination for Al Pacino as Shylock.
The South Africa-based Handspring Puppet Company will receive a Special Tony Award for its puppetry work on the production of "War Horse", based on the children's novel by Michael Morpugo.
"War Horse" received four nominations, including direction and scenic design.
The 2011 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement will be awarded to playwright Athol Fugard and Philip J. Smith, the chair of the Shubert Organization, America's oldest professional theater company.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Bernd Debusmann Jr.; editing by Patricia Reaney