Monday, June 13, 2016

Ten Tony Losers That Still Ended Up Winners

For those wonderful Tony nominees today who are looking at your empty shelves, wondering why your agent didn't follow up on that call from Lin-Manuel Miranda, I know it's got to be rough to wonder what might have been.  After all, at this point Scott Rudin is probably using all of his Tony Awards as coasters.  But don't fret too hard-find some solace in the below ten nominees, all of whom (shockingly) missed on Tony night but went on to more lasting immortality:

Gypsy (1960) lost Best Musical

One of the most iconic shows in the Broadway canon (seriously-who hasn't done this show at some point on-stage?) didn't win too many plaudits its first go-around.  While it cemented the immortality of one Ethel Merman (she was already pretty much there), the show was up against The Sound of Music, and lost both the production trophy as well as lead actress (Merman fell to Mary Martin).  Sadly for both actresses, neither would make it to the big-screen version of their shows (Rosalind Russell & Julie Andrews would see to that), but Gypsy lives on as a near-constant revival on Broadway, while The Sound of Music had to suffer the indecency of Carrie Underwood trying her hand at it.

Hair (1969) lost Best Musical

Deeply controversial in its time, Hair only managed two Tony nominations back in its day, losing out to the far more traditional 1776.  However, it's very clear in the "dawning of the age of aquarius" which one of the two lived on in infamy.  It won a boatload of Grammy Awards and caused a worldwide sensation.  Decades later the Tony Awards rectified the situation by rewarding it the Best Revival of a Musical statue.

Grease (1971) lost Best Musical

Two Gentleman from Verona has the dubious distinction of losing out to arguably the most popular American musical of the past fifty years.  Grease lost the Tony Award in 1971 to the Shakespearean adaptation, but went on to become (at the time) the longest-running musical in Broadway history, and eventually launched into an even more successful film, the highest-grossing movie musical of all-time.

Chicago (1976) lost Best Musical

In 1976 it probably made sense that Chicago, a dark musical comedy that had received mixed reviews would falter to the smash hit Pulitzer Prize-winner A Chorus Line, which would go on to become (at the time) the longest-running musical in Broadway history.  However, the tables turned in a truly remarkable fashion a few years later.  A Chorus Line watched its cinematic version bomb, while Chicago was bolstered by a smash revival and a big-screen adaptation that won the Best Picture Oscar. And that revival?  It's now run longer than A Chorus Line.  And all that jazz.

Dreamgirls (1982) lost Best Musical

Even in 1982, it's kind of hard to believe that Nine was able to take out Dreamgirls at the top of the Tony Awards, considering that Dreamgirls was clearly going to run for years while Nine was mostly being bolstered by the stage prowess of one Raul Julia.  Even with that surprise, Dreamgirls persevered, lasting longer on Broadway, and eventually getting a huge big-screen adaptation that won a different Jennifer an Oscar.  Nine, on the other hand, watched its big-screen adaptation go up-in-smoke, proving that even Daniel Day-Lewis can't do everything.

Miss Saigon (1991) lost Best Musical

Here the revenge might not be a film adaptation or eventually getting a major revival, but instead just money.  LOTS and LOTS of money.  Miss Saigon somehow got bested by Will Rogers Follies in 1991, but would go on to become a massive hit on Broadway, going strong for ten years and doing over 4000 shows in that time, becoming a staple of Shubert Alley in the 1990's.

Wicked (2004) lost Best Musical

I actually remember this happening, as I was old enough to be watching the Tony Awards and being floored by Avenue Q taking this trophy.  While the puppet musical has enjoyed some resonance, it hasn't remotely approached the dominance that Wicked has over the past decade, as the Wizard of Oz musical launched the careers of stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, grossed over $2.5 billion, and is still one of the hottest tickets on the Great White Way.  Now if only they'd finally get around to the movie...

Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady lost Best Actress (1957)

Julie Andrews for a brief moment there was somehow the charm of Broadway and someone who was in desperate need of some luck.  She lost Best Actress at the Tony Awards for her immortal star-turn as Eliza Doolittle to Judy Holliday and soon lost out on the part in the big-screen adaptation when Jack Warner refused to cast an "unknown" and put in Audrey Hepburn.  Andrews got revenge, though, when she made a massive hit of her own in Mary Poppins, and won both the Oscar and Golden Globe over Hepburn.  During her Globes speech, she even cheekily thanked "Jack Warner for making all of this possible."

Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl lost Best Actress (1964)

Streisand made a triumphant return to the Tony Awards last night, but it was in 1964 that she made one of her biggest splashes.  She was a massive triumph in Funny Girl on Broadway, but she lost out in one of those "she truly would have won in any other year" situations when Carol Channing's immortal role of Dolly Levi came about.  Streisand also got revenge, though, going on four years later to win the Oscar for her work in Funny Girl, and then the following year gave her own rendition of Dolly Levi, being cast over Channing in the big-screen adaptation.

Eileen Heckart in Butterflies are Free lost Best Featured Actress (1970)

Perhaps no one better says "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" than Eileen Heckart.  The longtime character actress had to not only lose the Tony Award, but lose it to her fellow cast member Blythe Danner in 1970.  Two years later, Heckart would be picking up an Oscar for her work in the cinematic adaptation, while Danner was unceremoniously dismissed in favor of Goldie Hawn for the lead.

There you have it-any other stories of triumph after losing to share with the Tony losers from last night?  And share your favorite thoughts in general on what I thought was a lovely night!

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