Here are more reader reactions to the May 4 nominations for the 1998 Tony Awards.
Owing to the great volume of responses, we have created this fifth file of opinions. Playbill On-Line thanks all of those who took the time to write.
I have had the pleasure of seeing all four Best Musical nominations this year. I think that despite all the hype of The Lion King, Ragtime shines through and will snag the crown of the King's head. I was slightly disheartened that Peter Friedman and Brian Stokes Mitchell will both not win the Tony Award, because they are both great, great talents in that show. The biggest snub in my opinion was in the Best Actor in a Play category, where Kevin Kline was an outstanding Ivanov. It was just a moving performance. The Side Show women should take the Tony too! What an effort and spirit! This year on Broadway has been awesome. . . Can't wait for next year!
From R Stack:
After looking at reader response to this year's Tony nominations, including my own, I must say that passionate opinion of the moment is running rampant. So I wondered if we should all put this really fine Broadway season in long term perspective and contemplate how it will be viewed, say in 25 years in the year 2023. Here goes:
Michael Ovitz revives "Ragtime" after discovering he doesn't have to pay a dime in royalties. It seems old Livent files conclusively prove that the show was actually never created by human hands, but by a then sophisticated software program developed in focus groups. But to no avail. Drama critics are perplexed as to why this show ran four years (even with its final18 months supported by the TKTS booth) back at the turn of the century. Audiences seem to agree. The revival closes after 32 previews and 13 performances.
A Short Hills, NJ mother is telling her daughter -- whose favorite video is the animated feature "The Lion King" -- that when she was a little girl the same age, her parents took her to the city to see a live stage version of "The Lion King." Although the show was in its 16th and final year and had long been the butt of jokes like "Cats" before it, she recalls enjoying it so very much. When the daughter asks mommy to please take her to the live Lion King, poor mom has to explain that in this day and age, no one, not even Disney, could possibly afford to stage such an elaborate spectacle. And mom has to confess that without all that glitz, well, there would be no show at all.
"Encores!" at City Center is staging in concert form "Side Show". This something of a cult musical is mostly known for five well-regarded institutional theater productions over the past 22 years, one each in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Japan and Australia. New York critics can't imagine how obviously unsophisticated theatre goers in the dark ages of the last century could have ignored this "masterpiece". The original cast recording, long out of print and a rare collector's item, is re released by Sony. Fran Weissler announces she will transfer "Side Show" to the Shubert in October.
The Irish Repertory Company is presenting the first professional revival in New York of "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" in a startling and imaginative production. Once again, as it was 25 years ago, this drama is the talk of the season.
Yasmina Reza, living very nicely, thank you, in the south of France, has just authorized 734 more stock and amateur productions of "Art" worldwide. Most prefer the "all-female" version, made so popular by the fondly remembered 2006 television version starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton.
Sam Mendes, now at long last the Director of Great Britain's Royal National Theatre, happens upon a forgotten play called "The Old Neighborhood" in a volume entitled "Some Other Plays by David Mamet" and stages it at the Cottesloe. Rupert Gambon and Sara Dench, scions of Brit theatrical legends, both win Oliviers.
It's Tony time again and Anthony LaPaglia, Allison Janney and Sam Trammell and chatting up Rosie O'Donnell on TV. They have to remind her that the Tony wins they each got in 1998 propelled them into their fabulously successful film and television careers.
John Leguizamo, who has been nominated for stage and film work more times than anyone can remember, finally wins a Tony Best Actor and an Oscar Best Actor in the same year to standing ovations.
Meanwhile uptown, Max Wright, and co-star Marian Seldes, are being wheeled center stage at the Vivian Beaumont. Like every other year, they camp it up, make goo-goo eyes at the audience and upstage the other actors. The Lincoln Center subscribers, now at an average age of 93, lap it up like, well Maalox.
And at long last it's Tony Sunday 2023. Once again The New York Times has a great lead feature in the Arts and Leisure section. Seems that the next Stephen Sondheim, the next Eugene O'Neill and the next Julie Harris all have something in common. As young teens, they watched the Tony telecast back in 1998 and were inspired to seek theatrical careers.
So you see, dear readers, the Great White Way lives on!
From David Alan:
The one nomination I am most pleased with is best score for Side Show. If there is any justice, this will get the Tony, though obviously it is a long shot, since it is likely a number of voters may not have heard it. The Lion King score is at best mediocre and recycled from the movie, and Capeman OK but all sounded about the same. Ragtime has some nice songs, but if you listen to both Side Show and Ragtime a number of times, it should be clear that Side Show is by far the superior one overall. Most of the songs are duets or more, and generally very effective. The way the sung dialogue leads right into a song is smooth and exciting. While the lyrics aren't Sondheim, they are often moving. So Tony voters get the CD listen a number of times, and don't worry about the fact that the show didn't last long, for reasons no one seems able to explain This one deserves a win.
When I saw Jane Greenwood's costume designs for The Scarlet Pimpernel I would have bet she would have had a sure Tony nomination. Sorry Jane they are great.
From Robin Kyin (firstname.lastname@example.org):
First, a hand for the Committee for doing a fine job this year. Although the nominations were dominated by Ragtime and Lion King, a good number of other shows were given the respect they deserved. The most surprising is The Capeman. Voters showed that they weren't theatre snobs by giving the horrendously staged show nominations in its three best characteristics -- Paul Simon is a gifted song writer and his music for the show was excellent, Bob Crowley did an amazing job balancing dark, sharply angled city scenes with soft gorgeous rural scenes (on the beach no less!), finally, its lively Latin-beat orchestrations sounded thrilling and wonderful. Side Show got the nominations it wanted, especially the double nomination for the twins. Scarlet Pimpernel got an amazing amount of respect (Best Musical!!!) despite being labeled as saccharin junk food by critics alike. Even the thoroughly mindless Triumph of Love got a nomination for its one redeeming quality, the goddess herself, Betty Buckley.
Now on to the slight problems. Patti LuPone deserved a nomination because she took something that could have been as cryptic as the Delphi oracles and transformed it into enjoyable theatre for the common man. Peter Friedman although good, took a slot that should have gone to Brent Spiner or Pat Hingle. (The 1776 men in general needed a little more respect!) Finally, my biggest gripe --- I don't care how much new material they wrote for the Lion King, it should not have been eligible for Best Score. If they are going to give a nomination to Pimpernel for Best Musical, they should have given Lion King's slot to Wildhorn. That's all.
From Cheryl Mazzarini:
My reaction? Both upset and overjoyed. Upset first-- Where is Susan Egan from Triumph? She was outstanding-- did the committee miss the fact that she portrayed at least four separate roles? Also, now, don't get me wrong, Betty Buckley was AMAZING in Triumph.. but for a lead nomination? She was clearly a supporting role, Susan was the lead. It is a shame that neither Rebecca Luker or Melissa Errico could have that spot. Also, the Harlequin, whose name I forget, i think it was Robert Bart, in Triumph was outstanding as well. Moving right along, where are all the men from Side Show? I was certain that Norm Lewis was going to be nominated, his rendition of "You Should Be Loved" is what drew me to the show in the first place... Also, how could Peter Friedman win the Outer Critics for Best Supporting Actor, and then be nominated for best Actor? I think he would have a better chance at winning if he were in the supporting category. Where is Natalie Portman for Anne Frank? I have heard mixed reviews of her performance-- and the major gripe I heard was that she is too beautiful for the part... It is important to remember that she is a young girl performing a lead on Broadway. That alone is an accomplishment... Now, overjoyed! Side Show! thank goodness! I am thrilled that the Tony committee did fall under the same trap that the other committees did, which is to nominate High Society before actually seeing it. That show is the little one that could, and I truly hope the perform wonderfully on the show. Ans the Twins-- Emily and Alice-- I cannot say enough. They are extremely talented and deserve this nomination completely. I am mostly thrilled with the women nominated for Best Actress... what a solid category! Any of those four women could win, and it would not be a major upset. And we actresses have said there are no more good women's parts!!! Kudos to my personal favorite, Brian Stokes Mitchell for the well deserved nod.
My predictions-- Ragtime for musical, and supporting actress. Lion King for all the technical awards, Actress and Actor-- who can tell?
What I find most astonishing is the fact that "The Chairs" was so well received by the TONY committee. I though only the not-for-profit world would dare to take a chance on something so "uncommercial". The work of Briers, McEwan, McBurney and the Quay Brothers is a marvel. I saw LaPaglia' s "Bridge" and "Chairs" on the same day. Its a tough call. Both were great, but so different. Molina in "Art" is the only reason to go - both Garber and Alda miss the boat completely - glad the TONY committee saw it the same way. The TONY will probably go to LaPaglia, but truth be told its a dead heat. Briers runs the gamut revealing a talent that America has only, unfortunately seen in Tom Good. McEwan, on the other hand is bloody brilliant! Forced one moment, demure and withdrawn the next. Regardless of what happens on TONY night, she is the best actress this season hands down. Polite apologies to wonderful turns by LuPone (some of the best work she's done - like Juilliard again), Colin (who deserves a nom) and Mullen (a heart-wrenching performance with wonderful nuance), Alexander (when is she not good? - Streep of the Stage) But McEwan, Briers & McBurney make "The Chairs" an experience in the theater that is far from absurd - who would have thought. If you haven't seen this production you are missing out on something so rare. Go - TONY's or not.
From Ramon Tejada:
Ok, so the Nominations came out and they're good. For Christ sake people, STOP, whining about the Paul Simon nomination. So maybe the showed was bad. But it did something that many shows on Broadway DO NOT DO: Bring in a new Audience. In this case Hispanics. I did not see the show (too expensive for my budget) But the music, having heard the CD, is phenomenal. Somebody earlier commented on the John Leguizamo nomination. Maybe they should go and see Freak instead of panning things right off. One-man shows are sometimes better than ensemble pieces. And I have sen Freak and it deserves both nominations. Ragtime is Great, but THE LION KING deserves it NODS. Remember, people, the Lion King is Julie Taymor's imagination at work. Not a recreation of the movie. And Leave Natasha Richardson alone. I haven't seen Cabaret, but I have had friends that have seen it and say that the show is incredible and her performance is amazing. She may not be Liza, but then again, Liza may be able to (or in her days could have) belt out her songs, but she could not act nearly was well as Richardson can. Remember Sally Bowles works at a Cabaret which is pretty much a brothel, so I don't think she should be opera singer perfection.
On the other nominations, great! Marin Mazzie, Audra McDonald (the tony's love her or what, she's great!, and if she wins her 3rd tony great for her. Talented people deserved to be nominated)!
From patrick o'neill (email@example.com):