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MAY
17
3 MOS

Tonys: Are Multiple Acting Nominations for a Show Ever Actually a Bad Thing?

THR's awards analyst looks into the predicament facing multiple actors from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," "A Raisin in the Sun" and "Twelfth Night."

Twelfth Night - H - 2014
Stephen Fry, Paul Chahidi and Mark Rylance in a scene from "Twelfth Night"

NEW YORK -- When the 68th Tony nominations were announced late last month, several actors found themselves nominated alongside a costar -- or, in one case, two costars -- in the same category. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder's Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham were both nominated for best actor in a musical; A Raisin in the Sun's Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose were both nominated for best featured actress in a play; and, most notably of all, Twelfth Night's Paul Chahidi, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance were all nominated for best featured actor in a play.

While this was undoubtedly received as good news by the nominees and their respective shows, it does beg the question, at least from a stats geek like myself: wouldn't those individuals have had a better chance of winning their category had they not been forced to compete against another actor -- or other actors -- from the same show? After all, doesn't the presence of multiple nominees from the same show increase the likelihood that fans of that show will break in different directions -- some voting for one of the show's nominees, others voting for another or others -- which would thereby undermine all of their vote totals and increase the likelihood of someone else sneaking in for the win?

I decided to investigate this theory to see if it is, in fact, supported by history.

FEINBERG FORECAST: A Look at the Tony Awards Field 

To begin with, I looked at every race in the history of each of the eight acting categories -- best actor in a play, best actress in a play, best actor in a musical, best actress in a musical, best featured actor in a play, best featured actress in a play, best featured actor in a musical and best featured actress in a musical -- and identified the instances, prior to this year, in which two people from the same show competed against one other and in which three people from the same show competed against one another. (Lower down in this post, you can see a category-by-category breakdown of all of these examples.)

Then, I looked to see how many of those head-to-head matchups -- or head-to-head-to-head matchups, in some cases -- resulted in one of the costars pulling off a victory over the other(s). My findings: of the twosomes, 74 of 155, or 48 percent, still mustered a win, and, of the threesomes, nine of 13, or 69 percent, took home a prize. That means that, overall, in situations in which more than one nominee from a show occupies an acting category, one of those nominees emerges victorious... almost exactly half (49%) of the time.

There was no scientifically-significant pattern that I could identify suggesting why some people were able to overcome "friendly competition" and others could not. Many of the folks who did so were young newcomers or old veterans; many had the larger (or largest) of the competing parts; and many of them were in shows that were also well represented in other categories.

Some of these stats may be of interest to this year's competitors. Mays and Pinkham might like to know that 11 of 19 (58 percent) prior instances of twosomes competing in the best actor in a musical category produced a winner; Mays probably has the better shot this year, although most regard it as Neil Patrick Harris' to lose for his performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Okonedo and Rose might find it interesting that 9 of 20 (45 percent) prior instances of twosomes competing in the best featured actress in a play category produced a winner; Okonedo probably has the better shot this year, and, in my humble estimation, is probably neck-and-neck with Casa Valentina's Mare Winningham. And, just because they number three, Chahidi, Fry and Rylance shouldn't despair just yet: of the three prior instances of threesomes competing in the best featured actor in a play category, two (67 percent) produced winners.

* * *

Best Actor in a Play

5 of 14 (36%) twosomes produced a winner; 0 of 0 (0%) threesomes produced a winner; 5 of 14 (36%) overall produced a winner

1958: Look Homeward, Angel (Hugh Griffith and Anthony Perkins) = both lost

1960: The Best Man (Melvyn Douglas and Lee Tracy) = Douglas won

1966: Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Patrick Bedford and Donal Donnelly) = both lost

1971: Home (John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson) = both lost

1974: Uncle Vanya (George C. Scott and Nicol Williamson) = both lost

1981: Amadeus (Tim Curry and Ian McKellen) = McKellen won

1989: Lend Me a Tenor (Philip Bosco and Victor Garber) = Bosco won

1971: Home (John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson) = both lost

1974: Uncle Vanya (George C. Scott and Nicol Williamson) = both lost

1981: Amadeus (Tim Curry and Ian McKellen) = McKellen won

1989: Lend Me a Tenor (Philip Bosco and Victor Garber) = Bosco won

2000: True West (Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly) = both lost

2001: Stones in His Pockets (Sean Campion and Conleth Hill) = both lost

2009: God of Carnage (Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini) = both lost

Best Actress in a Play

3 of 9 (33%) twosomes produced a winner; 0 of 0 (x%) threesomes produced a winner; 3 of 9 (33%) overall produced a winner

1956: The Chalk Garden (Gladys Cooper and Siobhan McKenna) = both lost

1960: Toys in the Attic (Maureen Stapleton and Irene Worth) = both lost

1967: The Killing of Sister George (Eileen Atkins and Beryl Reid) = Reid won

1983: 'night, Mother (Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak) = both lost

1988: A Streetcar Named Desire (Blythe Danner and Frances McDormand) = both lost

1993: The Sisters Rosensweig (Jane Alexander and Madeline Kahn) = Kahn won

1996: A Delicate Balance (Rosemary Harris and Elaine Stritch) = both lost

2009: God of Carnage (Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden) = Harden won

2009: Mary Stuart (Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter) = both lost

Best Actor in a Musical

11 of 19 (58%) twosomes produced a winner; 1 of 1 (100%) threesomes produced a winner; 12 of 20 (60%) overall produced a winner

1956: Damn Yankees (Stephen Douglass and Ray Walston) = Walston won

1960: Take Me Along (Jackie Gleason, Robert Morse and Walter Pidgeon) = Gleason won

1968: The Happy Time (Robert Goulet and David Wayne) = Goulet won

1972: Two Gentlemen of Verona (Clifton David and Raul Julia) = both lost

1976: My Fair Lady (Ian Richardson and George Rose) = Rose won

1981: The Pirates of Penzance (Kevin Kline and George Rose) = Kline won

1984: La Cage aux Folles (Gene Barry and George Hearn) = Hearn won

1987: Les Miserables (Terrence Mann and Colm Wilkinson) = both lost

1988: Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Jason Alexander and Robert La Fosse) = Alexander won

1989: Starmites (Gabriel Barre and Brian Lane Green) = both lost

1990: City of Angels (Gregg Edelman and James Naughton) = Naughton won

1995: Show Boat (Mark Jacoby and John McMartin) = both lost

1998: Ragtime (Peter Friedman and Brian Stokes Mitchell) = both lost

2001: The Producers (Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane) = Lane won

2005: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Norbert Leo Butz and John Lithgow) = Butz won

2005: Monty Python's Spamalot (Hank Azaria and Tim Curry) = both lost

2010: La Cage aux Folles (Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge) = Hodge won

2011: The Book of Mormon (Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells) = both lost

2012: Follies (Danny Burstein and Ron Raines) = both lost

2013: Kinky Boots (Billy Porter and Stark Stands) = Porter won

Best Actress in a Musical

8 of 11 (73%) twosomes produced a winner; 0 of 0 (0%) threesomes produced a winner; 8 of 11 (73%) overall produced a winner

1958: New Girl in Town (Thelma Ritter and Gwen Verdon) = Ritter and Verdon won (tie)

1971: Company (Susan Browning and Elaine Stritch) = both lost

1972: Follies (Dorothy Collins and Alexis Smith) = Smith won

1976: Chicago (Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon) = both lost

1977: Annie (Dorothy Loudon and Andrea McArdle) = Loudon won

1982: Dreamgirls (Jennifer Holliday and Sheryl Lee Ralph) = Holliday won

1984: The Rink (Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera) = Rivera won

1989: Black and Blue (Ruth Brown and Linda Hopkins) = Brown won

1992: Guys and Dolls (Josie de Guzman and Faith Prince) = Prince won

2002: Urinetown (Nancy Opel and Jennifer Laura Thompson) = both lost

2004: Wicked (Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel) = Menzel won

Best Featured Actor in a Play

12 of 23 (52%) twosomes produced a winner; 2 of 3 (67%) threesomes produced a winner; 14 of 26 (54%) overall produced a winner

1961: Big Fish, Little Fish (Martin Gabel and George Grizzard) = Gabel won

1965: The Subject Was Roses (Jack Albertson and Martin Sheen) = Albertson won

1968: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Paul Hecht, Brian Murray and John Wood) = all lost

1972: Vivat! Vivat Regina! (Douglas Rain and Lee Richardson) = both lost

1982: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Edward Petherbridge and David Threlfall) = both lost

1983: Brighton Beach Memoirs (Matthew Broderick and Zeljo Ivanek) = Broderick won

1984: Glengarry Glen Ross (Joe Mantegna and Robert Prosky) = Mantegna won

1986: Loot (Charles Keating and Joseph Maher) = both lost

1987: Fences (Frankie R. Faison and Courtney B. Vance) = both lost

1990: The Grapes of Wrath (Terry Kinney and Gary Sinise) = both lost

1992: Two Trains Running (Roscoe Lee Browne and Laurence Fishburne) = Fishburne won

1993: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Joe Mantello and Stephen Spinella) = Spinella won

1994: Angels in America: Perestroika (David Marshall Grant and Jeffrey Wright) = Wright won

1995: Love! Valour! Compassion! (Stephen Bogardus, John Glover and Anthony Heald) = Glover won

1996: Seven Guitars (Roger Robinson and Ruben Santiago-Hudson) = Santiago-Hudson won

1998: The Beauty Queen of Leeane (Tom Murphy and Brian F. O'Byrne) = Murphy won

1999: Death of a Salesman (Kevin Anderson and Howard Witt) = both lost

2002: Morning's at Seven (William Biff McGuire and Stephen Tobolowsky) = both lost

2003: Long Day's Journey into Night (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robert Sean Leonard) = both lost

2003: Take Me Out (Denis O'Hare and Daniel Sunjata) = O'Hare won

2005: Glengarry Glen Ross (Alan Alda, Gordon Clapp and Liev Schreiber) = Schreiber won

2006: Awake and Sing! (Mark Ruffalo and Pablo Schreiber) = both lost

2007: The Coast of Utopia (Billy Crudup and Ethan Hawke) = Crudup won

2007: Radio Golf (Anthony Chisholm and John Earl Jelks) = both lost

2008: The Seafarer (Conleth Hill and Jim Norton) = Norton won

2009: The Norman Conquests (Stephen Mangan and Paul Ritter) = both lost

Best Featured Actress in a Play

9 of 20 (45%) twosomes produced a winner; 1 of 2 (50%) threesomes produced a winner; 10 of 22 (45%) overall produced a winner

1970: Butterflies Are Free (Blythe Danner and Eileen Heckart) = Danner won

1975: Absurd Person Singular (Geraldine Page and Carole Shelley) = both lost

1977: The Shadow Box (Patricia Elliott and Rose Gregorio) = both lost

1979: Bedroom Farce (Joan Hickson and Susan Littler) = Hickson won

1982: Crimes of the Heart (Mia Dillon and Mary Beth Hurt) = both lost

985: Hurlyburly (Judith Ivey and Sigourney Weaver) = Ivey won

1986: The House of Blue Leaves (Stockard Channing and Swoosie Kurtz) = Kurtz won

1988: Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Kimberleigh Aarn and L. Scott Caldwell) = Caldwell won

1991: Our Country's Good (Amelia Campbell and J. Smith-Cameron) = both lost

1992: Dancing at Lughnasa (Brid Brennan, Rosaleen Linehan and Dearbhla Molloy) = Brennan won

1993: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Kathleen Chalfant and Marcia Gay Harden) = both lost

1994: Picnic (Debra Monk and Anne Pitoniak) = both lost

1996: Seven Guitars (Viola Davis and Michele Shay) = both lost

1997: The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Dana Ivey and Celia Weston) = both lost

2002: Morning's at Seven (Elizabeth Franz, Estelle Parsons and Frances Sternhagen) = all lost

2003: Dinner at Eight (Christine Ebersole and Marian Seldes) = both lost

2004: A Raisin in the Sun (Sanaa Lathan and Audra McDonald) = McDonald won

2005: Doubt: A Parable (Heather Goldenhersh and Adriane Lenox) = Lenox won

2007: The Coast of Utopia (Jennifer Ehle and Martha Plimpton) = Ehle won

2007: Coram Boy (Xanthe Elbrick and Jan Maxwell) = both lost

2009: The Norman Conquests (Jessica Hynes and Amanda Root) = both lost

2010: A View from the Bridge (Jessica Hecht and Scarlett Johansson) = Johansson won

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

17 of 33 (52%) twosomes produced a winner; 2 of 4 (50%) threesomes produced a winner; 19 of 37 (51%) overall produced a winner

1957: My Fair Lady (Robert Coote and Stanley Holloway) = both lost

1958: The Music Man (David Burns and Iggie Wolfington) = Burns won

1960: Forello! (Tom Bosley and Howard Da Silva) = Bosley won

1960: The Sound of Music (Theodore Bikel and Kurt Kasznar) = both lost

1961: Bye Bye Birdie (Dick Gautier and Dick Van Dyke) = Van Dyke won

1963: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (David Burns and Jack Gilford) = Burns won

1967: Cabaret (Joel Grey and Edward Winter) = Grey won

1969: 1776 (William Daniels and Ronald Holgate) = Holgate won

1969: Promises, Promises (Larry Haines and Edward Winter) = both lost

1970: Coco (Rene Auberjonois and George Rose) = Auberjonois won

1976: A Chorus Line (Robert LuPone and Sammy Williams) = Williams won

1977: Side by Side by Sondheim (David Kernan and Ned Sherrin) = both lost

1978: Working (Steven Boockvor and Rex Everhart) = both lost

1980: Evita (Bob Gunton and Mandy Patinkin) = Patinkin won

1982: Dreamgirls (Obba Babatunde and Cleavant Derricks) = Derricks won

1983: Cats (Harry Groener and Stephen Hanan) = both lost

1984: The Tap Dance Kid (Hinton Battle and Samuel E. Wright) = Battle won

1985: Big River (Rene Auberjonois, Daniel H. Jenkins and Ron Richardson) = Richardson won

1986: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (John Herrera and Howard McGillin) = both lost

1987: Me and My Girl (George S. Irving and Timothy Jerome) = both lost

1988: Anything Goes (Anthony Heald and Bill McCutcheon) = McCutcheon won

1989: Black and Blue (Bunny Briggs and Savion Glover) = both lost

1991: Miss Saigon (Hinton Battle and Willy Falk) = Battle won

1993: The Who's Tommy (Michael Cerveris and Paul Kandel) = both lost

1995: Show Boat (Michel Bell and Joel Blum) = both lost

1997: The Life (Chuck Cooper and Sam Harris) = Cooper won

1999: Fosse (Desmond Richardson and Scott Wise) = both lost

2000: Kiss Me Kate (Michael Berresse, Michael Mulheren and Lee Wilkof) = all lost

2001: The Producers (Roger Bart, Gary Beach and Brad Oscar) = Beach won

2001: The Fully Monty (John Ellison Conlee and Andre DeShields) = both lost

2003: Hairspray (Dick Latessa and Corey Reynolds) = Latessa won

2003: Movin' Out (Michael Cavanaugh and Keith Roberts) = both lost

2004: Assassins (Michael Cerveris and Denis O'Hara) = Cerveris won

2005: Monty Python's Spamalot (Michael McGrath and Christopher Sieber) = both lost

2009: Billy Elliot the Musical (David Bologna and Gregory Jbara) = Jbara won

2011: The Scottsboro Boys (Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon) = both lost

2012: Porgy and Bess (Phillip Boykin and David Alan Grier) = both lost

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

9 of 26 (35%) twosomes produced a winner; 3 of 4 (75%) threesomes produced a winner; 12 of 30 (40%) overall produced a winner

1958: Oh, Captain! (Jackie McKeever and Susan Johnson) = both lost

1960: The Sound of Music (Patricia Neway and Lauri Peters) = Neway won

1967: A Joyful Noise (Leland Palmer and Susan Watson) = both lost

1970: Applause (Bonnie Franklin and Peggy Fuller) = both lost

1971: Company (Barbara Barrie and Pamela Myers) = both lost

1973: A Little Night Music (Patricia Elliott and Hermione Gingold) = Elliott won

1974: Candide (Maureen Brennan and June Gable) = both lost

1976: A Chrous Line (Kelly Bishop and Priscilla Lopez) = Bishop won

1977: Side by Side by Sondheim (Julia McKenzie and Millicent Martin) = both lost

1978: Ain't Misbehavin' (Nell Carter and Charlayne Woodard) = Carter won

1979: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Joan Ellis and Carlin Glynn) = Glynn won

1980: West Side Story (Debbie Allen and Josie de Guzman) = both lost

1982: Nine (Karen Akers, Liliane Montevecchi and Anita Morris) = Montevecchi won

1985: Quilters (Evalyn Baron and Lenka Peterson) = both lost

1986: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Patti Cohenour and Jana Schneider) = both lost

1987: Les Miserables (Judy Kuhn and Frances Ruffelle) = Ruffelle won

1987: Me and My Girl (Jane Connell and Jane Summerhays) = both lost

1988: Cabaret (Alyson Reed and Regina Resnik) = both lost

1989: Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Debbie Shapiro Gravitte, Janie Lanier and Faith Prince) = Gravitte won

1991: The Secret Garden (Daisy Eagan and Alison Fraser) = Eagan won

1993: My Favorite Year (Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin) = Martin won

1995: Smokey Joes's Cafe (Brenda Braxton, B.J. Crosby and DeLee Lively) = all lost

2000: Contact (Deborah Yates and Karen Ziemba) = Ziemba won

2000: Swing (Laura Benanti and Ann Hampton Callaway) = both lost

2001: 42nd Street (Kate Levering and Mary Testa) = both lost

2003: Nine (Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson and Chita Rivera) = Krakowski won

2004: The Boy from Oz (Beth Fowler and Isabel Keating) = both lost

2006: The Color Purple (Felicia P. Fields and Elisabeth Winders) = both lost

2009: Billy Elliot (Haydn Gwynne and Carole Shelley) = both lost

2011: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Laura Benanti and Patti LuPone) = both lost

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg