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do roles win tony awards or do people win tony awards (probably both)

massofmen
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/04
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looking back i think people win tony's because of the roles they got cast to play. They were perfectly fine, but because the role was written so iconically, they won for being the first IN the role. 
Many actors would come after these actors and do just as well if not "better" (which is a silly term to use in art as its all subjective). 

roles like"
frankie Valli
Sweeney Todd
Aaron Burr
Elphaba
Galinda
Michael Dorsey (tootsie)
Dolly Levi
Jean Val Jean
the Phantom

Etc. 
Anyone agree?

Updated On: 8/5/20 at 10:41 AM
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LizzieCurry
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Tony's what?

"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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JBroadway
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It's always a mix of both. But sometimes it veers more toward one side than the other. I would say it's slightly more common to see the award go to a role (i.e, whoever played the role would have won) than to see the other way around (i.e the role only won because of who was cast in it). But both situations do happen, and like I said, it's almost always a bit of both, even if one situation is more role-heavy, and another is more actor-heavy. And often you have the perfect mix of both - i.e, the role is meaty already, but the actor elevates it significantly. 

Also, it's not just the role and the actor - the director is also in the mix. The director has a say in who gets cast, which means they facilitate the marriage between the role and the actor that often leads to Tony wins. Plus they help mold the performance with the actor and the writers during rehearsals and previews. Also, you sometimes have situations where the director re-imagines a role, and that re-imagining is what helps push the actor to the Tony. For example, I think the way Bartlett Sher re-imagined the role of Lady Thiang played a big part in Ruthie Ann Miles winning the Tony. Not to say that Miles isn't wonderful in her own rite - Sher directed the role with more nuance, and she had the talent to execute that nuance. My point is that it's always a collaboration, and the director is a part of that collaboration - sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes not. 

Updated On: 8/5/20 at 11:05 AM
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HogansHero
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aside from the fact that the award is for the performance alone, and that the competition can dramatically affect the result, there are certainly examples where the role helps the performer but I do not think that a so-so performance in a great role is going to win. I don't understand the part about other actors doing just as well. That is often true but that does not suggest that it is the role and not the performance. 

Broadway61004
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joined:4/14/11
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massofmen said: "looking back i think people win tony's because of the roles they got cast to play. They were perfectly fine, but because the role was written so iconically, they won for being the first IN the role. 
Many actors would come after these actors and do just as well if not "better" (which is a silly term to use in art as its all subjective). 

roles like"
frankie Valli
Sweeney Todd
Aaron Burr
Elphaba
Galinda
Michael Dorsey (tootsie)
Dolly Levi
Jean Val Jean
the Phantom

Etc. 
Anyone agree?
"

This is like the old "chicken or the egg" question: Are the roles iconic because of how they were written or are they iconic because of how the original actor portrayed them?  For example, we always think of Audrey in Little Shop basically exactly how Ellen Greene played her.  But had someone else interpreted the role differently, would the role still be iconic?  Or would it be iconic but in a completely different way based on how the other actress played her?

Also, several of those ones you listed never won Tonys (Jean Valjean, Galinda), so obviously neither the actor or the writing had anything to do with a Tony win there.

Sunny11
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joined:9/3/14
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Broadway61004 said: 
This is like the old "chicken or the egg" question: Are the roles iconic because of how they were written or are they iconic because of how the original actor portrayed them? ."

Some roles have been award winners for different productions and actors In those parts:   Broadway and West End or off- Broadway, original and revival.  Celie in the color purple, Effie in Dreamgirls and Hedwig in her eponymous show.
 

Yes, an actor has to fit those parts but many actors in a given season play their roles well but the show itself or the lack of “buzziness” of the part may prevent them from getting any awards attention at all.

Updated On: 8/5/20 at 12:45 PM
Jarethan
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I doubt that anyone can disagree with the premise that, the better the role, the better the opportunity for the actor.  That works both ways, however.  

Look at Natasha Richardson's reviews for Streetcar, Jessica Chastain's for The Heiress, Glenda Jackson's for King Lear, Elizabeth Taylor's and Richard Burton's for Private Lives, BP's for Gypsy (if that had been the first production of Gypsy ever, I'll bet that her reviews would have been universally lauded and lavished with awards), Kristen Chenoweth's reviews for The Apple Tree (maybe not a huge hit originally, but one that warranted legendary reviews for Barbara Harris), Zoe Caldwell's and Jason Robards' reviews for LDJIN at BAM 40+ years ago, and etc.  

These were outstanding, much lauded actors who were certainly not helped by all the pre-conceptions associated with great roles they assumed.  

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KJ4
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Another thing is that I kind of feel like when some musical are really that good to have many nominees in seversal categories... sometime it s resulted in the actors/actress to miss a chance to win in their lead role in the aspect that this musical have won so many awards already then it wouldnt be fair for others.

Broadway61004
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joined:4/14/11
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KJ4 said: "Another thing is that I kind of feel like when some musical are really that good to have many nominees in seversal categories... sometime it s resulted in the actors/actress to miss a chance to win in their lead role in the aspect that this musical have won so many awards already then it wouldnt be fair for others."

I'd hardly say that's the case given that in the past 20 years alone we've had 5 cases where a production has won 3 of the 4 acting awards and last year was the first time since 1985 that no show had multiple acting winners.  The Tonys aren't exactly known for spreading the wealth among shows when they really fall in love with something.

Tennis Fan
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Christian Hoff told me the role of Tommy DeVito in JERSEY BOYS was written specifically for him.  Perhaps that gave him a leg up.

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The Distinctive Baritone
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JBroadway answered those pretty perfectly, IMO.

That said, there are some roles that so perfectly and beautifully written, and so meaty, that whoever would have originated that role on Broadway was inevitably at least gonna get nominated unless they somehow screwed it up!

Non-musical examples include:

Christopher in Curious Incident
Violet and Barbara in August: Osage County
Mark Rothko and Ken in Red
Catherine in Proof
All four roles in Doubt
Nora in A Doll’s House Part 2
Charlotte et al in I Am My Own Wife
Prior, Roy Cohn, Louis, Belize, and Harper in Angels in America
Salieri and Mozart in Amadeus
Dysart and Alan in Equus
Troy and Rose in Fences
George and Martha in Virginia Woolf
Willy, Linda, and Biff in Death of a Salesman
Etc...

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henrikegerman
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Role important AND person important.

AKA casting critical. 

Bell0708
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I have heard a rumor that Elphaba keeps her Tony in her bathroom. I'll see myself out.