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Tony Snubs: 5 Big Surprises From the 2017 Awards

Variety logo Variety 6/12/2017 Gordon Cox
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In a year without a “Hamilton,” the races for the 2017 Tony Awards had seemed fraught with unpredictably. But while there were a couple of dark horses (“Come From Away,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2”) giving the frontrunners (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “Oslo”) a run for their money, the night played out largely as expected. Even so, there were a handful of snubs and surprises to keep the industry chattering at the after parties. Here are five of them.

SNUB: Kevin Spacey, by the audience in the room and online

The crowd at Radio City seemed warm enough for Spacey in the opening number, but by the end of the night, you could feel the audience lose interest in his lackluster shtick. Critics weren’t all that kind online, either.

SURPRISE: Christopher Ashley, Director of a Musical, “Come From Away”

Broadway’s kibitzers expected Rachel Chavkin to score for overseeing the transformation of the Imperial Theater for the immersive staging of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” Or if not Chavkin, it seemed likely that Michael Greif would win as part of a sweep for “Dear Evan Hansen.” Ashley, a veteran of both Broadway (“Memphis”) and the regional circuit (where he’s artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse), wasn’t so much on the radar. But he’s well-liked in the industry, and his work on “Come From Away” is often credited for turning what could have been a small, somber show into something lively, joyous, and colorful.

SNUB: Danny DeVito, Featured Actor in a Play, “The Price”

DeVito was the odds-on favorite in his category, charming audiences with his comic turn in the revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Price” (including a memorable bit with an egg) and charming Tony voters with his funny-grump demeanor. But instead the award went to Michael Aronov, who has what is the showiest role in the ensemble cast of the season’s new play winner, “Oslo.”

SURPRISE: “Indecent” gets some love

In the run-up to the Tonys, Paula Vogel’s play “Indecent” began to feel like the also-ran, ceding the conversation to showier candidates “Oslo” (which won) and “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (which gave “Oslo” some serious competition). But many in the theater community were notably moved by “Indecent’s” behind-the-scenes story of a little-known Yiddish theater play, and voters rewarded the complexity and delicacy of its interdisciplinary approach with awards for director Rebecca Taichman and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind.

SNUB: Any of the Broadway shows that could have performed instead of the Rockettes

In one of the evening’s head-scratchers, the Rockettes emerged to strut their stuff in a tribute to New York City. Sure, Tony winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom, Jr. sang, and Radio City is the Rockettes’ home base, but the link to the theater world felt tenuous at best. It would have made more sense to showcase one of the several strong-selling new titles on Broadway that didn’t get recognized by the nominations, like “Anastasia” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

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