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Biggest Tony upset of all time?

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Mike Barrett
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joined:4/13/13
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #1
Posted: 3/18/19 at 10:23am

Im curious, what would be considered one of the bigger tony upsets? Now Im not asking in terms of who YOU thought should've won, but often as there is a usual consensus for who will win. For example, The Bands Visit and Hamilton are 2 recent clear favorites to take Best Musical. Can you imagine the upset if Mean Girls or Waitress took the win? Just wondering if there has been any fun cases of true shock of a winner.

ElphabaGoodman
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #2
Posted: 3/18/19 at 10:36am
I think Kinky Boots over Matilda is definitely one of them...
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John Adams
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #3
Posted: 3/18/19 at 10:41am

Avenue Q over Wicked (or Caroline or Change).

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CoffeeBreak
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #4
Posted: 3/18/19 at 10:43am

Definitely the Kinky Boots win over Matilda.  Broadway politics screwed that one up.

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carolinaguy
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joined:10/13/06
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #5
Posted: 3/18/19 at 10:45am

I think La Cage aux Folles winning Score over Sunday was a big surprise to many.

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Midnight Radio
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #6
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:02am
The Pajama Game winning Best Revival over Sweeney Todd is another one in recent memory
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IdinaBellFoster
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #7
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:11am

I would hardly call KINKY BOOTS winning over MATILDA a huge upset. They were neck and neck all season.

Recent ones I can think of:

David Hyde Pierce in CURTAINS over Raul Esparza in COMPANY

LaChanze in THE COLOR PURPLE over Patti LuPone in SWEENEY TODD

THE PAJAMA GAME over SWEENEY TODD for Revival.

I also think Ruthie Ann Miles was a bit of a shock. She gave a beautiful performance and deserved the win, but most thought it was between Kuhn or Lucas in FUN HOME.
 

"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards
Updated On: 3/18/19 at 11:11 AM
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SomethingPeculiar
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #8
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:23am

Recent examples: 

2014, A Raisin in the Sun (and Kenny Leon for directing it) over Twelfth Night and Glass Menagerie

2013, Kinky Boots not just for Best Musical but also Best Actor. Most people thought it would take Score and Choreography, but the other wins were more surprising.

2007, David Hyde Pierce (Curtains) over Raul Esparza (Company)

2005, Glengarry Glen Ross over Twelve Angry Men and Virginia Woolf for Best Revival

There have been a few years with surprising acting wins, often in the Featured categories if there's not a clear frontrunner, but I wouldn't call them "upsets." Examples such as Gabriel Ebert (Matilda), Ruthie Ann Miles (King & I) over all the Fun Home ladies, Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet), Michelle Pawk (Hollywood Arms), Nikki M. James (Book of Mormon), Sara Ramirez (Spamalot), Paulo Szot (South Pacific), Denzel (Fences) over Alfred Molinda (Red), John Larroquette (H2$).

Waitress winning over Hamilton would have been the biggest upset in Broadway history, not unlike Crash over Brokeback Mountain at the Oscars. Mainly because Waitress probably wasn't even the #2 on most lists –– Shuffle Along was (and some people did think it would win Choreography and Costumes).

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Wick3
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #9
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:31am

I think Waitress could have won Best Musical if it didn't compete with Hamilton. Back in 2004, I think any of the best musical nominees would have won Best Musical in other seasons.

I really started paying attention to Broadway at around 2001 and the following is what I remember as upsets (not necessarily biggest Tony upset):

2004 Best Musical - Wicked was the big blockbuster musical that year but Avenue Q managed to win Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score. I still think 2003-2004 season was one of the best Broadway ever had (Wicked, Avenue Q, Caroline or Change, Boy From Oz, Assassins, Taboo, etc.) I just remember going to both shows' rush lotteries that summer and both had huge crowds (not Hamilton ham4ham crowds but still a lot!)

2007 Best Leading Actor in a Musical - Raul Esparza was favored to win but David Hyde Pierce won. 

2012 Best Leading Actor in a Play - Philip Seymour Hoffman was favored to win but James Corden won. 

2017 Best Direction of a Musical - Michael Greif (Dear Evan Hansen) and Rachel Chavkin (Great Comet) were both favored to win but Christopher Ashley (Come from Away) won.

2018 Best Musical Revival - It was simply great to see Once on This Island win!!!!!! Even at the acceptance speech the producer stated he was surprised they won!

2018 Best Leading Actor in a Musical - People were generally surprised Tony Shalhoub won (there are other threads out there that discuss this already.) I'd say Joshua Henry and Ethan Slater were more favored than Tony to win last year.

Above are just a few examples of upsets but not sure if any would be the biggest tony upset of all time.

Vinosippycup2
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #10
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:41am

Someone else would be better to say what was the biggest upset over the years gone by but more recently, I 100% agree that Kinky Boots over Matilda was a terrible decision for Best Musical. For it to win Best Music and Lyrics over Matilda - it was a crime. There seemed to be some serious behind the scenes politics  behind that decision. 

 

 

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CurtainPullDowner
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #11
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:46am

I didn't find Tony Shalhoub's win an upset at all.

The KINKY win was definitely an upset and a political situation when the British producers refused to share producing credits with established Broadway producers.

MyLife
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #12
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:47am

SomethingPeculiar said: " Waitresswinning overHamiltonwould have been the biggest upset in Broadway history, not unlike CrashoverBrokeback Mountainat the Oscars. Mainly becauseWaitressprobably wasn't even the #2 on most lists ––Shuffle Alongwas (and some people did think it would win Choreography and Costumes)."

 

That's such a strange statement. Since Waitress didn't win we could also just say 

" 'Any show that didn't win' winning over 'Biggest show of the year that did win' would have been the biggest upset in Broadway history."

I'll start

Glory Days winning over In the Heights would have been the biggest upset in Broadway History

 

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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #13
Posted: 3/18/19 at 11:51am
Having seen Glory Days, that show making it to Broadway at all was a pretty big upset
WestEndGal
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #14
Posted: 3/18/19 at 12:24pm

ElphabaGoodman said: "I think Kinky Boots over Matilda is definitely one of them..."

l’m still lowkey bitter about that lol!

 

WestEndGal
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #15
Posted: 3/18/19 at 12:30pm

I forget, but wasn’t Steve Kazee winning for Once considered an upset also?

brdwybound04
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #16
Posted: 3/18/19 at 12:40pm
Marissa Jaret Winokur who at the time was an absolute nobody, besting a controversial, but still career defining turn for Bernadette Peters in Gypsy. One only needs to look at the Tony Awards performances that year to see the love and admiration for Peters and her sexy and kewpie doll take on Madame Rose...
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bdn223
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #17
Posted: 3/18/19 at 12:40pm

That and the whole pushing Bertie Carvel to Best Lead Actor, instead of featured in a ploy to win as many Tony's as possible. Add to that the pushing of the Matilda's for joint consideration, after the rules were already specifically changed after the Billy's won. Matilda's entire Tony campaign rubbed voters the wrong way and made voter feel as though they were expected to bow to the shows greatness. This was contrasted with Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper did anything and everything asked of them with a smile during the awards season for Kinky Boots. It was very much a literally example of "You catch more flies with honey then you do with vinegar" even if its a very high end balsamic. 

CurtainPullDowner said: "I didn't find Tony Shalhoub's win an upset at all.

The KINKY win was definitely an upset and a political situation when the Britishproducers refused to share producing credits with established Broadway producers.
"

 

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laurensambrose
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #18
Posted: 3/18/19 at 12:42pm

Wasn't Thoroughly Modern Millie beating Urinetown for Best Musical an upset? 

Madison7
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #19
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:11pm

For me, the biggest Tony upset was Michael Arden not winning best direction for Deaf West Spring Awakening. 

Madison7
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #20
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:11pm

For me, the biggest Tony upset was Michael Arden not winning best direction for Deaf West Spring Awakening. 

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darquegk
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #21
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:11pm

At the end of West Side Story, when Doc says that Maria is dead and Tony freaks out, that's probably the biggest Tony upset I've ever seen.

Impossible2
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #22
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:16pm

Apart the staging I don't get the Matilda love, I didn't like it at all and thought it was a mess. I couldn't understand any of the lyrics by the screechy children and had no idea what the hell was going on.

Even though Kinky Boots was no masterpiece I enjoyed it a lot more than Matilda.

As much as I loved The Great Comet and think it should've got Best Musical, the direction of Come From Away was phenomenal and I think it deserved it's award.

I loathed Midler in Hello Dolly.

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Mike Barrett
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #23
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:16pm

My first thought was Kinky Boots Vs Matilda. That was the first Tony's I watched, and I remember the HEATED debates on this board when Kinky won. Ive seen Kinky 4 times and haven't seen Matilda so I can't specifically comment on that show, but in terms of lead actor, I ebelvie the main argument was that Carvel should've been in supporting and that his role really was not a leading role. I can see why voters would vote for an equally excellent performance that is more of a demanding role over something that should be a supporting role. Just my two cents. 

SharksVsJets
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #24
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:22pm

darquegk said: "At the end of West Side Story, when Doc says that Maria is dead and Tony freaks out, that's probably the biggest Tony upset I've ever seen."

Well played, sir or madam.

 

 

Broadway61004
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Biggest Tony upset of all time? #25
Posted: 3/18/19 at 1:43pm
Any personal opinions aside, though, Kinky Boots over Matilda was in no way a big upset given who was expected to win. They were neck and neck for Best Musical and the vast majority were predicting both Porter and Lauper, even if they were predicting Matilda for musical. So I'd hardly call it an upset that it won all 3.