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Top 10 Broadway Shows That Shockingly Didn't Win Best Musical

Top 10 Broadway Shows That Shockingly Didn't Win Best Musical
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
And the Tony goes to… not what you might think. For this list we're taking a look at the Top 10 Broadway Shows That Shockingly Didn't Win Best Musical. For this list, we're taking a look at Broadway musicals that have gone down as classics, making their failure to win at the Tony Awards all the more surprising. We've included movies like “Beauty and the Beast”, “Into the Woods”, “Miss Saigon”, “Dreamgirls” and more!

#10: “Beauty and the Beast”
Lost to: “Passion”

When “Beauty and the Beast” hit movie theaters, it was praised as one of the best animated features ever made, not to mention one of the greatest musicals. The next logical step was to adapt this Best Picture nominee to the stage. While critics infamously panned the Broadway version, audiences fell in love with the show and Tony voters shared their sentiment. Although “Beauty and the Beast” received nine Tony nominations, winning one for costumes, it lost Best Musical to Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion,” another love story with beauty as a central theme. “Passion” won four Tonys overall, but “Beauty and the Beast” has continued to make a lasting impression on the stage.

#9: “Into the Woods”
Lost to: “The Phantom of the Opera”

“Passion” arguably hasn’t gone down as one of Sondheim’s most memorable musicals, being the shortest-running show to win the Tony. “Into the Woods,” however, is widely considered one of Sondheim’s best, having 765 initial performances on Broadway and inspiring numerous other productions, as well as a 2014 feature film. The original Broadway show won three Tony Awards, but it had the misfortune of having to go up against “The Phantom of the Opera” for Best Musical. Becoming the longest running show in Broadway history and defining musical theater for a generation, nothing could beat “Phantom” that year. At least the spotlight was shined on “Into the Woods” in 2002 when it won Best Revival.

#8: “Miss Saigon”
Lost to: “The Will Rogers Follies”

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, this tale of star-crossed lovers had a lot to live up to. The composers previously worked on the monster hit “Les Misérables” and the story was inspired by the iconic opera, “Madame Butterfly.” Nevertheless, this London import was an enormous success on Broadway, breaking an advance-ticket sales record and winning three acting Tonys. The show faced stiff competition for Best Musical, however, going up against (xref) “Once on This Island” and eventual winner “The Will Rogers Follies.” It’s been argued that “Miss Saigon” lost due to backlash, suffering from astronomical hype and casting controversy. Yet, that didn’t stop it from running on Broadway for just under a decade.

#7: “Dreamgirls”
Lost to: “Nine”

Even decades after she originated the role of Effie White in “Dreamgirls,” we still get chills whenever we hear Jennifer Holliday sing “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.” Holliday deservedly won the Tony for her show-stopping performance, as well as a Grammy Award. Although “Dreamgirls” won the Grammy for Best Cast Show Album, it lost the Best Musical Tony to “Nine.” This wasn’t even a two-horse race per se, as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was also in contention. It’s too bad these three shows hit Broadway around the same time, as they all would’ve been easy frontrunners in a less competitive year. Winner or not, we’re always gonna love “Dreamgirls.”

#6: “Hair”
Lost to: “1776”

Arriving on Broadway in the midst of the sexual revolution, “Hair” emerged as one of the most thought-provoking, controversial, and timely musicals of its era. While clearly a product of the late ‘60s, its themes of war and peace remain relevant even to this day. Rather than looking to the future or the present, Tony voters favored the past in 1969, awarding Best Musical to “1776.” Like “Hamilton,” “1776” chronicled the birth of the United States and would ultimately secure its place in musical theater history. Between these two shows, though, “Hair” was the clear game-changer, bringing the rock musical genre into a bold new age and eventually winning Best Revival in 2009.

#5: “Funny Girl”
Lost to: “Hello, Dolly!”

As one of the most celebrated musicals of all time, it’s baffling that “Funny Girl” failed to win a single Tony. Then again, it did have to compete with “Hello, Dolly!,” which at the time tied for the most Tony wins ever with a total of ten. In the long run, both shows made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame and inspired Best Picture-nominated movies. Ironically, Barbra Streisand couldn’t prevail at the Tonys for her star-making performance as Fanny Brice, but later took home an Oscar for reprising her role in the film adaptation of “Funny Girl.” That same year, she also appeared as Dolly Levi in the big screen version of “Hello, Dolly!”

#4: “Oliver!”
Lost to: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”

Speaking of “Funny Girl,” it actually lost the Best Picture Academy Award to the screen adaptation of “Oliver!” Since only a handful of movie musicals have achieved Oscar’s top prize, you’d think that its Broadway counterpart would have pulled off a similar victory at the Tonys. While the stage production won three Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, the Best Musical prize went to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” This ancient Rome-inspired musical also got the Hollywood treatment, but it didn’t take the Oscars by storm like “Oliver!” did, only receiving recognition for its adapted score. It just goes to show that Oscar and Tony are two completely different beasts.

#3: “Chicago”
Lost to: “A Chorus Line”

After “Oliver!,” another musical wouldn’t win the Best Picture Oscar until “Chicago,” which arrived in movie theaters over 30 years later. Back in 1976, though, the stage version of “Chicago” was completely shut out on Tony night, losing Best Musical to “A Chorus Line.” Interestingly, both of these shows revolved around people in pursuit of stardom, although “Chicago” had a bit more jazz and murder. Despite striking out the first time around, the 1996 Broadway revival of “Chicago” dominated the Tonys with six wins – a record number for a revival at the time. The revival also became the longest-running American musical on Broadway, ironically beating the record previously held by “A Chorus Line.”

#2: “Wicked”
Lost to: “Avenue Q”

Reviews might’ve been divisive when it first premiered, but few Broadway musicals have enjoyed as much success as “Wicked,” gaining a passionate following, grossing over $1 billion, and picking up numerous accolades, including the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. It’s also repeatedly won’s Audience Award for. Believe it or not, one of the few awards “Wicked” didn’t win was the Tony for Best Musical, which astonishingly went to “Avenue Q” instead. Don’t get us wrong, both of these musicals are modern masterpieces. We just never expected those highbrow Tony voters to recognize a show where puppets drink, swear, and fornicate.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
Lost to: “Once”

Lost to: “The Sound of Music” & “Fiorello!”

Lost to: “A Little Night Music”

#1: “West Side Story”
Lost to: “The Music Man”

Even if you’ve never seen the stage production, chances are you’re familiar with the 1961 film adaptation of “West Side Story.” The cinematic version won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, making it the most awarded movie musical in Oscar history. So naturally, it must’ve won the Tony, right? Although “West Side Story” did win two awards for its choreography and scenic design, Best Musical went to “The Music Man.” Granted, both shows have left lasting impressions on the musical theater world. What’s especially shocking, though, is that “West Side Story” has been brought back to Broadway multiple times, but it’s never even won Best Revival. That’s almost as tragic as Tony and Maria’s romance.