Bennett was in serious competition with his protegé, Tommy Tune, for the 1981-82 Tony Awards. Bennett had given Tune his first major role in Seesaw and urged him to continue his stage work. The Tune-directed Nine won Best Musical over Dreamgirls and Tune won Best Director over Bennett. It was a terrible blow to Bennett's ego and the competition caused hard feelings.

Many speculate that the Tony voters were punishing the Shubert Organization for allowing the Helen Hayes and Morosco theatres to be demolished, making way for the Marriot Marquis Theatre. The Shuberts were heavily involved in Dreamgirls and not taking the Best Musical prize was a blow.

Tony Awards (nominated for 12, won 6)

BEST MUSICAL (nomination)
Tom Eyen ? BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Tom Eyen & Henry Krieger ? BEST SCORE OF A MUSICAL (nomination)
Ben Harney ? OUSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Jennifer Holliday ? OUSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Sheryl Lee Ralph ? OUSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (nomination)
Cleavant Derricks ? OUSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Michael Bennett ? OUSTANDING DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL (nomination)
Robin Wagner ? OUSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN (nomination)
Obba Babatunde ? OUSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (nomination)
Theoni V. Aldredge ? OUSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN (nomination)
Tharon Musser ? OUSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
Michael Bennett & Michael Peters ? OUSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY

Drama Desk Awards (nomination for 10, won 3)

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL (nomination)
Jennifer Holliday ? OUTSTANDING ACTRESS - MUSICAL
Sheryl Lee Ralph ? OUTSTANDING ACTRESS - MUSICAL (nomination)
Cleavant Derricks ? OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR - MUSICAL
Ben Harney ? OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR - MUSICAL (nomination)
Tom Eyen ? OUTSTANDING LYRICS (nomination)
Michael Bennett ? OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR - MUSICAL (nomination)
Theoni V. Aldredge ? OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN (nomination)
Tharon Musser ? OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN (nominaton)
Robin Wagner ? OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN