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You Were Robbed: 10 Actors Who Probably Should Have Won Tony Awards, But Didn’t

Don’t even lie. You watch the Tonys every year and there’s always one award that leaves you shaking your first and cursing at the TV. Here are our favorite actors who couldn’t manage to eke out a Tony Award, despite being beautiful and talented and awesome…

Raul Esparza
That Raul makes the cut will shock exactly zero persons on the face of this earth who like theater. Nominated four times — once in each acting category, making Mr. Esparza on the second actor ever to pull off that feat — Raul just can’t seem to catch a break. In this case, at least for us, the second cut is the deepest. When Raul lost the Leading Actor in a Musical Tony to David Hyde Pierce in 2007, we ugly cried like Claire Danes in a Homeland montage. We thought for sure his Bobby in Company — fucked up in the same ambiguous way all of our exes were — was the one. The winner. And if our habit of emotionally cutting by listening to his “Being Alive” on dreadfully bad days is any indication, we haven’t changed our minds. In fact, we may never get over that loss. We hope Raul has, though. Or at least that he lets the loss fuel his hatefire and keeps coming back to try again.

Jonathan Groff
So, yes. Technically Groffalicious was up against Raul Esparza in 2007. But this is our website, and not a totally fair and judicious democracy like, say, the Tony Awards. So we can decide that they were BOTH robbed simultaneously. And with his staggeringly good performance as Melchior Gabor — seriously, when he took over the role, Groff made Ben Walker look like a creepy rapist AND a bad actor — the star of a show that felt fresh and experimental and accessible to a whole new theater audience, our hearts really did belong to Groff that year. Now we just live in abject fear that famous Mr. Groff will never come back to Broadway in a musical — HBO pays better, after all — and also comfort ourselves with the vision of Groff and Esparza being all “Fuck that guy!” and hugging it out in the men’s room at Radio City.

Michael Cavanaugh
So let’s talk for a minute about The Other Cavanaugh — Michael — who was nominated for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony in 2003 and lost to Dick Latessa, who won for Hairspray. Now, no shade to Dick. We love him. But Michael, in addition to being fiercely talented and adorable in a kind of wide-eyed, WTF-am-I-even-doing-on-Broadway kind of way, was the glue that held the already-amazing Movin’ Out together. Without a single spoken word of dialogue, and without ever standing up from his piano bench while Twyla Tharp’s dancers contorted themselves into knots below him, Michael gave that show a pretty crucial thing — its narrative voice. How crucial? He got nominated for a Tony award for acting and he’s not even an actor. Boom. He’s also not a Tony winner, and that’s just a bummer.

Andre DeShields and Roger Bart at the Same Time
Andre De ShieldsRogerBart
Was Gary Beach funny in The Producers? Yeah, he was. But if you had to give a Tony Award to somebody in that show in the Best Featured Actor in a Musical category, why not Roger Bart? He made us laugh harder and was totally way weirder. And we like weird. Obviously that should add up to a Tony Award, no? Yeah, we get that he already won for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and that The Confusing Politics and Assorted Ephemeral Weirdness of the Tonys nominating/winning process is always in play, but in a contest of abject hilarity, Roger still wins in our book. And do not even get us started on Andre DeShields. The man has been nominated for a pair of Tonys and no one can figure out how to make him win one. If The Wiz himself can’t even make it happen, we give up.

Barbra Streisand

Whatever, Carol Channing. Whatever.

Brent Carver
Clearly the Tony voters missed the memo that whenever Canada’s Brent Carver is nominated for a Tony, he should win. We know. Yadda yadda, he already won. But did Martin Short really need to win a Tony for playing Martin Short in Little Me? Did he really? We think that if Brent couldn’t win, he at least should have won a special Tony Award the following year for giving The Best Tonys Performance Ever. Because seriously, between him and Carolee Carmello in this clip from 1999, it seems like someone should get a trophy.

Patrick Wilson

Ok, so we’re biased in favor of youthful handsomeness and golden tenor voices. Fine. We’ll cop to that. But we’re also biased in favor of truly great performances, and Patrick Wilson’s in The Full Monty was one of those. It wasn’t the scenery-swallowing smorgasboard that was Nathan Lane in The Producers — a guaranteed Tony winner if there ever was one — but we’re still a little wounded that Patrick lost. Patrick’s performance as a vulnerable, end-of-the-line single Dad had us both teary eyed and turned on — all the good things you should be at the theater. Plus, he should have won for convincing anyone, at any point in time, that he’s not hot enough to play a stripper. Pardon us, a male dancer.

Andrew Rannells
If there were a contest for memory’s most recent highway robbery at the Tony Awards, Andrew Rannells’ Elder Price would be the clear winner. His perfectly calibrated performance as Elder Price in The Book of Mormon — equal parts wild, desperate pathos and genuine faith and hope — grabbed hold of the audience and refused to let go. In the closing scenes of the second act, Rannells raised a single eyebrow while questioning his belief in God, and we almost shouted “GIVE THAT EYEYBROW A TONY!” right there in the theater. The worst part of his loss, though? In the aftermath, people seemed to attribute the utter perfection of his performance, not to Andrew himself, but to the writers who created the role and the casting directors who put him in it. Because clearly his talent and effort on that stage meant nothing at all. Ugh. Talk about robbery.

Sherie Rene Scott
Look, we’ll level with you here. Sherie Rene Scott’s performance in Everyday Rapture — the one-woman show based upon her very real life — made us weep profusely in our seats. Scott laid herself bare on the stage, and in doing so, connected with audiences on a deeply human, deeply relatable level. In the way only the best shows and performances truly can, Scott’s story became universal–as much yours as it was hers. Your struggles were there, on that stage. Your heart and soul were too. You were understood and moved, and knew yourself better for having spent time with Ms. Scott. In that way, too, her loss felt sort of personal. Especially at the hands of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was perfectly serviceable, but nowhere near as remarkable.

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Ana June 7, 2013, 12:16 am

    Only clicked your Twitter link to make sure Raul was on the list. Sure enough, he’s number one. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that one either.

  • Caroline June 7, 2013, 12:32 am

    GAVIN CREEL. HAIR. I mean, okay, I admit that I didn’t see all of the Tony Nominated performances that year and you can probably guess where I fall on the “should the Billys have been eligible” debate but GAVIN FREAKING CREEL.

  • April June 7, 2013, 1:03 am

    Kelli O’Hara? She’s a fucking national treasure.

  • Nicole June 7, 2013, 1:16 am

    No Jan Maxwell?

  • Lisa W June 7, 2013, 7:43 am

    Feel compelled to mention my Tony dream date, Mr. Terrence Mann…. Hopefully this will be his year!

    • Caroline June 7, 2013, 9:44 am

      If it isn’t, I might start a petition for this post to be updated…

      • Caroline June 12, 2013, 11:22 am

        Well crap.

  • GSH June 8, 2013, 7:03 am

    How about Gavin as Claude? I really felt like the Tony was trying to pull a stunt by giving it to the Billy Elliot kids. I mean they’re amazing, but Gavin was AMAZING in Hair.

  • Renee June 11, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Jeremy Jordan. :(

  • Ladybirdplane June 11, 2013, 8:15 pm

    Stark Sands for Journey’s End…I have the feeling he will be in the Raùl and Terrence club…

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