Tony Nomination Snubs: Audra McDonald, Jennifer Hudson and 'American Psycho'

12:55 PM 5/3/2016

by Ashley Lee and David Rooney

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Saoirse Ronan, Judith Light, Sam Rockwell and James Earl Jones were among performers unacknowledged in the nominations.

Audra McDonald, Jennifer Hudson and Benjamin Walker are among this year's snubbed performances
Audra McDonald, Jennifer Hudson and Benjamin Walker are among this year's snubbed performances
Julieta Cervantes; Matthew Murphy; Jeremy Daniel

Broadway has just enjoyed one of its starriest seasons to date — though Jessica Lange, Danielle Brooks, Steve Martin and more Hollywood names nabbed their first Tony Awards nominations, performances by Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis, Al Pacino, Linda Lavin, Matthew Broderick, Clive Owen, Keira Knightley and Jim Parsons wet unacknowledged.

Still, the onstage turns of Judith Light, Sam Rockwell, Audra McDonald, Jennifer Hudson and James Earl Jones might have nabbed a slot in a less competitive season. See below for The Hollywood Reporter's selection of snubs.

Read more List of nominees | Hollywood nominees react | Hamilton makes history

  • Audra McDonald

    'Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed'

    Julieta Cervantes

    Audra McDonald has won a record six Tonys throughout her career — for her roles in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill — and is the only person to win across all four acting categories, meaning for plays and musicals, lead and featured. She's been nominated for eight Tonys in total, so the lack of acknowledgement for her comedic, tap-happy turn as Lottie Gee is a surprise. In any other season with less competition, she would have danced her way to a slot in the lead actress category.

  • Jennifer Hudson

    'The Color Purple'

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

    The Oscar and Grammy winner was initially the big name drawing buzz to this stripped-down revival. As Shug Avery, the flashy-trashy juke-joint singer who brings light, love and freedom into Celie's joyless life, Hudson showcased her sensational vocals — luscious and full-bodied, with astonishing control. But her performance in dramatic scenes couldn't match those of her castmates, Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks, both of whom nabbed nominations.

  • Kimiko Glenn

    'Waitress'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    As shy diner server Dawn, the Orange Is the New Black actress is hilarious and touching singing the comedic number "When He Sees Me" and makes a suitably eccentric match for Ogie, played by Christopher Fitzgerald, who was nominated. Sadly, the Broadway newcomer won't be able to share in the moment with Orange castmate Danielle Brooks, nominated for The Color Purple. Nevertheless, her show was nominated for best musical, as well as for Sara Bareilles' score and Jessie Mueller's lead performance. Expect them to be serving pie and a song on the Tony telecast.

  • Benjamin Walker

    'American Psycho'

    Jeremy Daniel

    The musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' cult novel was a hit in London, canceling its original off-Broadway plans to go directly to theatrical primetime. But director Rupert Goold's production — featuring a cool, '80s-style, electro-pop score by Spring Awakening's Duncan Sheik — was nominated only for scenic and lighting design. Not even the chiseled Benjamin Walker as serial killer Patrick Bateman was acknowledged in the lead actor category for guiding the audience on his character's nightmarish journey of existential ennui.

  • John Gallagher Jr.

    'Long Day’s Journey Into Night'

    Joan Marcus

    Of the four principal actors in this revival of Eugene O'Neill's intimate epic, John Gallagher Jr. was the only one who failed to land a nomination — though his performance was generally reviewed as the weak link in a quartet dominated by more memorable turns from co-stars Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne and Michael Shannon. Still, the powerful production leads the play categories with seven nominations, including best revival.

  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson

    'Fully Committed'

    Joan Marcus

    The Modern Family actor returns to Broadway after ten years to play nearly forty characters in this one-man show about a reservationist for an exclusive New York restaurant. Despite juggling multiple accents, personalities and story arcs while working up a serious sweat, Ferguson missed out on a nomination. Like Jim Parsons' mischievous turn as the imperious title character in An Act of God, it's hard to get noticed in a show that is basically an elaborately scripted standup routine.

  • James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson

    'The Gin Game'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    The rapport between the two previous Tony winners was infectious in Leonard Foglia's staging (the first on Broadway with non-traditional casting) of D.L. Coburn's popular 1976 two-hander about a pair of retirement home residents who banter and bitch away the hours at a card table. However, the limited run came and went early in the season, leaving little impression in comparison to more dramatic plays that opened later.

  • Sam Rockwell

    'Fool for Love'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    Sam Rockwell seems a natural inhabitant of Sam Shepard country, with his loose physicality, his slyly ingratiating quality, his off-kilter swagger and insouciant humor  — not to mention those lasso skills. But in a year stuffed with so many other strong leading actors, his nuanced performance as Eddie, the disenfranchised cowboy forever bound to Nina Arianda's May, was forgotten.

  • Annaleigh Ashford

    'Sylvia'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus/Cort Theatre

    It's certainly possible to deliver a notable performance in an otherwise patchy show (see Jennifer Simard, nominated for playing the nun with a slot-machine fixation in Disaster!). Starring alongside Matthew Broderick and Julie White, the 2015 Tony winner played an anthropomorphized pooch — who bounds around and over furniture, sniffs the set and drags her butt across the carpet while panting with urgency — in the revival of A.R. Gurney's midlife crisis comedy. But Ashford's witty comic turn and inspired physicality weren't enough to land her a nomination.

  • 'The Crucible'

    Jan Versweyveld

    As accuser, accused and judge, respectively, in this modern take on the classic 17th century Salem witch trials, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Whishaw and Ciaran Hinds all gave searing performances that drew high praise from critics. But the ensemble cast of director Ivo van Hove’s second revelatory Arthur Miller revival this season was an embarrassment of riches, which makes it perhaps inevitable that some of its worthy contenders were excluded. Bill Camp and Sophie Okonedo (a winner in 2014 for A Raisin in the Sun) did make the cut, however.

  • Judith Light

    'Therese Raquin'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus/Roundabout Theatre Company

    A favorite with Broadway audiences, Judith Light scored back-to-back Tonys in 2012 for Other Desert Cities and 2013 for The Assembled Parties. But her compelling work as the overbearing mother-in-law of Keira Knightley’s title character in Therese Raquin had the disadvantage of coming early in the season (the limited engagement closed in January) and being in an adaptation of the Emile Zola potboiler that was generally considered semi-successful at best. The play yielded a single nomination for set design.

  • Ana Villafane

    'On Your Feet!'

    Courtesy of Mathew Murphy

    In just about any other season, Ana Villafane’s dynamite Broadway debut in On Your Feet! as Latin music crossover sensation Gloria Estefan would have been a sure thing for a nomination — perhaps even a win. The warmth, humor and heart she pours into the role is phenomenal, as is her vocal performance of Estefan’s infectious hits and her sinuous dance moves. Conga, anyone? But lead actress in a musical was possibly this year's fiercest race, and Villafane can take consolation from being in the company of Broadway royalty Audra McDonald among the shutouts.

  • 'Allegiance'

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy
    George Takei's long-gestating passion project — a musical that draws inspiration from his childhood in the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II — got no Tony love, despite welcoming previous winner Lea Salonga and her glorious voice back to Broadway after a decade-long absence. Notwithstanding its noble intentions and stirring real-life inspiration rooted in a shameful chapter of American history, the drama was widely judged to be an imperfect fit for musical treatment.
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