You know what's frustrating? Finding out that people you think have won truckloads of Tony Awards have in fact not a one in sight. If you're the type of person who picks out your favorites on the list of nominees each season and thinks, "It would be great if they won again, but let's give it to someone else," it's time to double-check your info. Before sending any more bad juju into the Tony ether, take a look at TheaterMania's list of most surprising non-Tony winners — Broadway's perpetual bridesmaids, but somehow never the brides.
1. Stephen Schwartz
Over the course of his illustrious composing career, this Broadway vet has racked up a grand total of four Drama Desks, three Grammys, and three Oscars, but somehow has yet to strike Tony gold. Schwartz has certainly amassed a fine collection of Tony nominations — six since 1973 when he got his first nod for Pippin. To his detriment, Schwartz's gravity-defying Wicked somehow defied the law of averages. (The puppet-happy Avenue Q beat him out.)
2. Julie Andrews
It's almost unfathomable that the legendary Dame Julie has no Antoinette Perrys to display on her mantle. Yet the Great White Way's highest honor has managed to elude the angelic voice that originated iconic Broadway roles like My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle and Camelot's Guenevere. It probably didn't help that she turned down her 1996 nomination for Victor/Victoria after everyone but the actress was snubbed by the nominating committee (Donna Murphy ended up winning for The King and I), but the refusal of that nomination alone should have earned Andrews at least a special Tony for "Classiest Broad on Broadway."
3. Elaine Stritch
Yes, we realize that the producers of her solo show Elaine Stritch at Liberty won a 2002 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, but the brassy lady herself has yet to claim a trophy of her own. Stritch has certainly been around Broadway a time or two, having picked up four nominations over the past seven decades. She was bested by not one, but two leading ladies in the 1962 race (there was a tie between Anna Maria Alberghetti for Carnival! and Diahann Carroll for No Strings). Stritch was even a nominee at the first-ever televised ceremony in 1956 for her performance in Bus Stop. Still, we all have to live with the sad fact that a guest spot on Law & Order earned her more hardware than her iconic martini-guzzling turn in Company.
4. Raúl Esparza
While the Drama Desk voters seem appropriately enthralled with the dramatic stylings of versatile Broadway favorite Raúl Esparza, those Tony voters continue to be tough nuts to crack. Esparza has earned four Tony nominations — two for his musical performances, in Boy George's Taboo and the 2007 revival of Company (both of which earned him Drama Desk Awards), and two for his non-singing turns in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming (Drama Desk No. 3) and David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow. Maybe it will take a comedy to finally get voters' attention.
5. Sidney Poitier
To be fair, only one of the three Broadway productions in which this living legend appeared came to the Great White Way after the founding of the Tony Awards in 1947 (aside from a production of Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights that he directed in 1968). He did manage to sneak in a nomination for his historic 1960 performance originating the role of Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, but was outdone by Melvyn Douglas, who earned his only nomination and win that year for Gore Vidal's The Best Man.
6. Jan Maxwell
This Broadway veteran has been bested in a total of five Tony races by the acclaimed company of Sara Ramirez (Spamalot), Jennifer Ehle (The Coast of Utopia), Viola Davis (Fences), Scarlett Johansson (A View From the Bridge), and of course, Tony hoarder Audra McDonald (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess). The nods have been coming in at a regular pace every two to three years since 2005, her most recent being for her performance in the 2012 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies (enter Ms. McDonald), so the next one should be right around the bend. With any luck, the sixth time will be the charm.
7. Kelli O'Hara
The Tony nominators have been very kind to this musical actress. Just weeks ago they added a fifth nod to the growing collection she's been amassing since her 2005 breakout role in The Light in the Piazza. This year she is recognized for her performance in Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman's The Bridges of Madison County. The voters, however, seem to enjoy just dangling the carrot in front of O'Hara's nose. In fact, she and fellow serial-nominee Jan Maxwell have shared the agony of defeat twice before in the same category (Sara Ramirez in 2005 and Audra McDonald in 2012 took out both in one fell swoop). We could say this may finally be the year O'Hara takes home the statue…but we wouldn't want to jinx her chances.
8. Danny Burstein
Danny Burstein joins his former South Pacific castmate Kelli O'Hara as one of this season's most prolific Tony veterans. He just received his fifth nomination for his performance as Herr Schultz in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Cabaret, his third nod in three years (his last two being for Golden Boy in 2013 and Follies in 2012). Still, the Broadway mainstay seems to take it all in stride, for, as he well knows, the sun will rise and the moon will set and you learn how to settle for what you get…and five Tony nominations ain't a bad bargain.
- Kelli O'Hara
- Elaine Stritch
- Julie Andrews
- Stephen Schwartz
- Danny Burstein
- Jan Maxwell
- Raul Esparza
- Sidney Poitier
- Surprising Non-Tony Winners