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15 Incredible Broadway Performances That Were Snubbed By The Tony Awards This Year

Some great performances from shows like Mean Girls and Frozen weren't included when the Tony nominees were announced Tuesday.

Posted on May 1, 2018, at 3:32 p.m. ET

1. Alex Newell, Once on This Island

Joan Marcus

From the moment he burst through on The Glee Project and then Glee, Alex Newell has established his star power with unbelievable vocals, commanding stage presence, and an embrace of gender fluidity. In Once on This Island, he plays Earth god Asaka — traditionally a role played by a woman — and brings down the house with his ever-changing riffs in "Mama Will Provide." His performance is a celebration of theatrical versatility and a reminder of the magic that comes from casting outside the box.

2. Merle Dandridge, Once on This Island

Joan Marcus

Then there's Merle Dandridge, who played god of death Papa Ge, another gender-swapped role, with more thrilling success. Dandridge was sadly only with Once on This Island for a limited time, which likely hurt her potential of earning a Tony nomination. But her Papa Ge was equal parts terrifying and seductive, and she provided some of the show's most stunning vocals.

3. Tom Sturridge, 1984

Julieta Cervantes

As a surprisingly sexy Winston in 1984, Tom Sturridge was unbearably compelling. He was so effective that his climactic torture scene was difficult to endure. But while the play was, at times, a challenge to sit through, it was a unique theatrical experience, and Sturridge's emotional honesty kept it grounded in reality.

4. Adam Kantor, The Band's Visit

Matthew Murphy

Honestly, the entire cast of The Band's Visit deserves recognition. In a show with so many quiet, subtle moments, their performances are both restrained and deeply moving. As Telephone Guy, Kantor spends most of the show in the background, but his gorgeous performance of "Answer Me" — a song that never fails to wrest unexpected tears from the audience — is what ties it all together.

5. Keegan-Michael Key, Meteor Shower

Matthew Murphy

If Keegan-Michael Key had earned a nomination for his performance as Gerald in Meteor Shower, it would also (unofficially) be for his work off-Broadway in the Public Theater's Hamlet. But while Hamlet may be, you know, Hamlet, Meteor Shower was a thorough delight, thanks in no small part to Key. His blend of macho posturing and terrifying intensity made him a scene-stealer in a play full of scene-stealers.

6. Caissie Levy, Frozen

Deen Van Meer

You've heard "Let It Go" a million times, but have you heard Caissie Levy sing "Let It Go"? Levy's performance isn't worthy of acclaim just because of her powerhouse vocals — anyone who makes a song you got sick of five years ago sound brand new deserves an award — but also because of the depth with which she imbues Elsa. She cycles between being terrified and terrifying without breaking a sweat, and yes, belts the roof off the theater along the way.

7. Patti Murin, Frozen

Deen Van Meer

And at Elsa's side is Anna, played with overwhelming warmth and compassion by Patti Murin. The musical version of Frozen proves just how essential Anna is to the story; while she hasn't always gotten the attention Elsa has, they're really coleads. And much of that is due to Murin, who brings so much heart and humanity to the show while also providing many of the big laughs with Anna's hapless charm.

8. Michael Potts, The Iceman Cometh

Julieta Cervantes

With its nearly four-hour runtime, The Iceman Cometh has plenty of moments for all of its actors to shine. Michael Potts leaves an especially lasting impression as Joe Mott, the former proprietor of a gambling house. Denzel Washington has earned deserved acclaim (not to mention a Tony nomination) for his performance as Hickey, particularly his climactic 20-minute monologue, but Potts delivers speeches that are just as arresting. His searing indictment of the racism he has endured and his proud proclamations of how he has learned to navigate a world dominated by white men are some of the play's most compelling moments.

9. Paul Alexander Nolan, Escape to Margaritaville

Matthew Murphy

Listen. Escape to Margaritaville is not high art. And it's not the kind of show that usually nabs award nominations. That having been said, Paul Alexander Nolan is the reason the show works at all; he exudes charm, and he gives those Jimmy Buffett tunes a musical theater polish that makes them a lot more digestible for non-Parrotheads.

10. Lilli Cooper, SpongeBob SquarePants

Joan Marcus

The impressive 12 nominations SpongeBob SquarePants earned is only surprising if you haven't seen it — this is a thrillingly innovative, immensely entertaining show, with one of the best casts on Broadway. Frankly, they all deserve nods, but let's give a special shout-out to Lilli Cooper, who has been doing consistently great work since she made her Broadway debut in Spring Awakening. Her Sandy Cheeks is sharp and sassy — and deeply sympathetic when Bikini Bottom turns their anti-mammal bigotry on her.

11. Jin Ha, M. Butterfly

Matthew Murphy

In the original production of M. Butterfly, the reveal of Song Liling's gender identity was a major twist. In the revival, playwright David Henry Hwang revised the play to make it clear that Song was a man from the beginning, but the character was as richly complex as ever. Jin Ha was a striking and commanding presence as an enigmatic opera singer moving between two worlds, displaying an irresistible allure that captivated Gallimard — and the audience.

12. Barrett Wilbert Weed, Mean Girls

Joan Marcus

The Plastics might rule the school, but there is no one cooler than Janis. (Yes, she's an outcast. But what's cooler than that?!) Barrett Wilbert Weed is quickly emerging as the go-to actor for playing iconic high school badasses; she was incredible as Veronica in the off-Broadway musical Heathers and she does not disappoint in Mean Girls. Weed is biting and funny, and she's also never sounded better. Her performance of "I'd Rather Be Me" is destined to turn this showstopper into a "don't give a fuck" anthem.

13. Kate Rockwell, Mean Girls

Mean Girls / Via Facebook: MeanGirlsBway

Playing dumb is not as easy as it looks, and Kate Rockwell takes it to incredible heights in Mean Girls. Her Karen is relentlessly, staggeringly simple — it should be cartoonish, but somehow Rockwell makes it believable. She also captures the heart of the character, so you end up rooting for her to make it out OK (even though she's mostly too blissfully ignorant to be bothered by anything happening around her).

14. James McArdle, Angels in America

Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

There is a lot more to James McArdle's performance as Louis than his convincingly nebbishy New York voice, but if you've heard his real Scottish accent, you'd hand him a Tony right there. With so many amazing actors in this staggering epic, some were bound to get overlooked. But McArdle is doing incredible work here — at times unbearably frustrating, at times surprisingly endearing. His Louis can be difficult to like, but weirdly, and despite one's better instincts, hard not to love.

15. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Angels in America

Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

As Belize, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett offers the perfect counterpoint to Louis's endless speechifying: He's the only one who can really call him on his bullshit. Stewart-Jarrett is very funny, but he's also fiercely passionate, whether that means providing emotional support to his ailing friend Prior or delivering a brutal monologue on the country's failing. The "I hate America" scene has always been great, but Stewart-Jarrett makes it his own.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.