Tony Awards: 5 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

2016 Tony Awards Snubs and Surprises:
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

In a 2015-16 season in which the top winner at the Tony Awards, “Hamilton,” had been a foregone conclusion since the musical opened last summer, the biggest uncertainty of the Tony telecast was how Broadway would sensitively acknowledge the recent shootings in Orlando while also going on with the show. Here are five of the evening’s biggest snubs and surprises.

SNUB: Intolerance and hate.
The Orlando shootings were acknowledged early and often throughout the ceremony, but what came to seem remarkable was how much of the show seemed already to stand in defiance of terrorists hoping to quash diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Even in the dress rehearsal on Sunday morning, before a formal acknowledgment of the tragedy had yet been formulated, the Tonycast’s opening number celebrated the Broadway’s diversity and welcomed young dreamers of every stripe — of “every color, class and race and face and shape and size,” as well as boys, girls and transgender kids too.

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SURPRISE: Tony producers didn’t save “Hamilton” for last.
Many producers of the evening’s nominated shows, accepting that their projects didn’t stand a chance of beating “Hamilton,” were at least hoping the producers of the Tonys would save the “Hamilton” number until the final performance slot, so that the ceremony would hold on to as many TV viewers as possible for the duration. Almost, but not quite: The song from “Hamilton,” the full-cast Revolutionary War number “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside-Down),” was the second-to-last to air during the evening. The ultimate slot went to “Waitress,” which incorporated composer Sara Bareilles into a medley that showcased the full cast and star Jessie Mueller.

SNUB: “Shuffle Along” shuffled away empty-handed.
In any other season, “Shuffle Along” would have probably been the juggernaut. The show, in which a powerhouse team of creatives and performers turns a spotlight on a largely forgotten but influential 1921 musical, was such a strong contender that many in the industry were convinced that it would steal at least a couple of awards away from “Hamilton” — particularly with Savion Glover’s choreography and with at least one of its design elements, like maybe the costumes by Ann Roth or the lights by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. But in the end, “Shuffle” earned no awards from its 10 nominations.

SURPRISE: Andy Blankenbuehler of “Hamilton” won for choreography.
It’s not that people didn’t think Blankenbuehler didn’t do Tony-worthy work in making “Hamilton” move as smoothly and poetically as it does. It’s that the theater industry at large was mostly convinced that voters would spread the love and give this particular award to another Tony winner also doing spectacular work: Glover, who created the jaw-dropping tap in “Shuffle Along.” But Blankenbuehler won the day.

SNUB: Awards-watchers waiting for a surprise upset.
Sure, there were some minor variations from the script here and there, but mostly, the evening stuck to its expected trajectory: “Hamilton” dominated; a milestone in diversity was achieved with four African-American winners in musical acting categories; the winningest play was “The Humans”; “The Color Purple” and its star Cynthia Erivo were both triumphant; and the year of Ivo van Hove culminated in wins for “A View from the Bridge” and a directing trophy for van Hove. So no big surprises to set Broadway types chattering — but still plenty to celebrate.

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  1. Jasmine says:

    SNUB: Intolerance and hate? What typical Variety B.S.

  2. just_a_broadway_baby says:

    I was really hoping that Michael Arden would win for Best Direction of a Musical for his brilliant work with Deaf West’s production of Spring Awakening, but of course Hamilton won, what was I expecting. Yeah, I’m still a bit bitter. I’m happy Hamilton won as many awards as it did, it’s a fantastic production, but other shows deserved to win awards that didn’t because Hamilton won so many. Do I think Hamilton deserved to win multiple awards? Of course! Do I think it deserved as many as it received? No.

  3. dippsydoodle says:

    I think many expected Danny Burstein to win Best Actor in a musical. The thought was that Miranda and Odom would probably split the vote, leaving the door wide open for Tevye to go home a rich man.

  4. blue2oons says:

    tonys a lesson for oscar…film, perhaps the most important cultural influence the usa exports to the world, perhaps the most accessible record of our cultural history, (for better or worse), gets no real respect at oscar time when really bad gags and repeated litanies of thank you mom, agent and dentist, often dressed in seriously bad duds, dominate what should be an event celebrating film art…as the tonys did for theatre art with a series of performances and humble acceptances rather of substance than self…never seen a product advertise it self so below its value than the tacky oscar show does for the glory of film…oscars so dumbed down.

    • cadavra says:

      And important to remember two things: 1) Tony presenters and performers/winners are used to appearing in front of live audiences. 2) Unlike Hollywood, Broadway has no age limit. Veterans know how to write a thoughtful, entertaining acceptance speech. Two more reasons why the Tonys are always the best awards show of the year (and, sadly, usually the least-watched).

  5. When 9/11 occurred, awards shows were postponed or canceled altogether. Evidently there weren’t enough casualties this time?

    • Hans Dieter Ulrich says:

      When Ronald Reagan was shot, Nancy specifically asked Jack Valenti to hold the Oscar ceremony as scheduled that same night. The Emmy’s were cancelled and re-scheduled after 9/11both because of the magnitude of the attack with the lack of knowledge as to whether it was over, and because the FBI specifically asked for the delay due to safety concerns and pending threats. The Mayor of Los Angeles called the movie theater owners the next morning and asked that they re-open. “Business as usual” was President Bush’s request; show the terrorists they cannot shut down America. Broadway closed the theaters on 9/11 as all of New York City was on lockdown. Mayor Giuliani called The Broadway League two days after the attack and asked how quickly they could be up and running – the lights of Broadway being the best indication to the world that New York City could not be defeated.

  6. Paul Brandt says:

    Cynthia Erivo is not “African-American,” but rather British. Your assertion of “four African-American” winners in musical acting categories” is incorrect and should be corrected.

  7. Tony awards is just another Affirmative Action program

    • Chico Unchained says:

      Have you seen “Hamilton” or “The Color Purple?” Even if you haven’t seen either musical, by just watching the Tony Awards, you could see why Hamilton won the Pulitzer Prize & why Cynthia Erivo got a standing ovation. Simply powerful and amazing and breathtaking. They deserved every single win.

  8. Jake says:

    I have not seen Hamilton but there was no question it would sweep -/ I think the biggest surprise is that it did not beat the record of most Tonys

    • CMarks says:

      “Hamilton” went in knowing they couldn’t, without ties within categories, break the record number of Tonys (held by “The Producers”). With three nominees in one category and two in two others the possibility all winning as a result of ties simply wasn’t even a remote possibility. No one should have been surprised that “The Producers” record still stands.

    • Hans Dieter Ulrich says:

      Actually there was no way it could have set a record because they had two nominations in the Best Actor category and three in the best supporting category. So of their record-setting sixteen nominations, 4 were nominees with no chance of winning an award, making their max total 12 – as it was they earned 11.

      • AJ says:

        Actually, it technically could have beat The Producers. It did have 16 nominations but in 13 different categories (including the multiple noms in same categories that you mentioned). The Producers had 15 nominations in 12 categories (there is no leading actress in The Producers to nominate). The Producers won in Scenic design which Hamilton lost to She Loves Me (which some may seem as an upset, but I think She Loves Me deserved it). Also, everyone had expected Cynthia Erivo to win the Tony for The Color Purple over Phillipa Soo. Hamilton could have beat The Producers if it won all the categories for which is was nominated. However, most people assumed it would tie because they knew Cynthia Erivo would win for Leading Actress.

  9. Michael Anthony says:

    Obviously Marci has never made typos or had something come out wrong when making comments. Auto correct can ruin a sentence.

    I hate net nannys. And guess what nannies: Yes, there are people who can’t spell or create sentences perfectly. So what? You’d gave a point if education equality existed.

  10. Marie Marlin says:

    Lol….it’s a nice complement :-D

  11. Marci says:

    I hope he inspires you to take some English and grammar classes.

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