The 1998 Tony Awards have now been handed out. Most things went as predicted, but there were, as always, a few major surprises. We asked readers to share their feelings about particular categories, or about the awards as a whole.
Playbill On-Line thanks all who took the time to write. Owing to the huge volume of responses, we have created this sixth file of posts. Playbill thanks all those who took the time to write:
From MASON WOOD (Wamozart92@aol.com):
In the last 24 hours I have been swamped with "why didn't RAGTIME win" questions through the RAGTIME FAN WEBSITE that I maintain (http://members.aol.com/Wamozart92/ragtime.html). LION KING won Best Musical for many reasons; among them, the fact that DISNEY had more moolah with which to woo Tony voters (I dare them to deny it). But on the practical side, Disney has single handedly brought a whole new younger audience to Broadway with its two shows; and the Tony was as much for Mssrs Eisner, Schneider and the whole Disney gang, who not only cleaned up (Disney fied) 42nd street, but who then took the uncharacteristically, unDisney, artistic leap-of-faith with Julie Taymor, from which ALL of Broadway is now benefitting! And what other musical has ever caused tears of joy to stream from the eyes of the most ardent of theatergoers in just its first 90 seconds? RAGTIME's loss is reminiscent of the `88 Tonys when PHANTOM beat out INTO THE WOODS for Best Musical, but WOODS picked up the Best Score and Book awards. Damn good company to be in, don't ya think?
From Sean R. Kelley:
I was so pleased to see the VERY upbeat ceremony. For the first time in years it truly felt like a celebration of the New York Theatre.
I thought Rosie was delightful and in talking to friends who were there and they said she had everyone in stitches during the commercial breaks.That was definitely a TITANIC dress, one that should have sunk. I thought her opening outfit would have been enough. I was pleased to see CABARET win. It is without a doubt the best show on Broadway right now. I thought Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson were rightly honored, as was Julie Taymore and Garry Hynes. It was great to finally see Women win for directing. About time, Broadway!
A great night and one that should make all of us who are doing theatre feel great about where the theatre world is headed.
From Clair Sedore (firstname.lastname@example.org):
I think it is a crime that the envelopes got mixed up. They should double check these things before the show goes on. RAGTIME IS THE WINNER.
From Mauro da Fonte:
The show format was great, and so was Rosie.
It bothered me that she was pushing for Lion King. To me the Lion King, was a display of craftsmanship, and a very good one, good singing, but not the best show on Broadway. Ragtime and Side Show are examples of real american theater. I just hope they will bring Side Show back. In my own opinion Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were the best and should have won. Now after last night we know who they are and we heard their great voices .
From Roarke Satava:
I loved the Awards this year and I think Rosie did a GREAT job as the host. I would have liked to see the Scarlet Pimpernel win. I loved that musical and a think Douglas Sills deserved the best actor in a musical. I was disappointed seeing all those awards going to Cabaret. That doesn't look like one of my must sees. I mean, Scarlet Pimpernel is up there with my all time favorite Phantom of the Opera.
As for the best musical, two words for ya, NO WAY !! I don't think Lion king deserved it ONE BIT !! Yeah, they have nice costumes and setting, so you give them an award for that but I'm sorry, that's not Broadway. Yeah it's a great show for children, IT"S NOT BROADWAY !! I think that it is kind of disgusting how a company can bring a story from a movie to the stage, they don't have to write any music (well, a little bit) and I think it makes other productions look bad. IT'S NOT BROADWAY MATERIAL !!
Rosie--a great booster for Tony and for Broadway; thanks!
Cabaret--Bravo! Ditto for Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming.
Lion King--spectacle over the superior though flawed Ragtime.
Audra Macdonald--very good , but did not need another Tony; should have gone to Mary Louise Wilson.
Ron Rifkin- terrific, but John McMartin stole what little there was of tHigh Society (producers note---Errico is not the star endlessly touted by Ken Mandelbaum and Ben Brantley based on five performances in Venus!!!)
Anthony Lapaglia and Marien Mullen--fine choices.
Anna Manahan- great performance, but she was just as much a lead as Mullen.
Tom Murphy--You must be kidding; the only truly outrageous choice Tony made!!!! A fine performance, but NO Tony. If the choice had to be from Beauty Queen, as apparently Tony ignored all but a few chosen productions, it should have gone to O'Byrne. But Sam Trammel's breakout, brilliant performance was the true winner--Tony's only crime! Taymor and Hynes- Congratulations!
Art--The right choice, thank goodness!
From Nathan Zenner:
Although neither of The Lion King, or Ragtime appealed to me I was hoping that Ragtime would take the award for best musical. Any one who says that The Lion King is original and helping Broadway is very confused about Theatre. Of course it is a big flashy spectacle, but so are the numerous stage shows that are based off of which ever Disney movie is currently in movie theatres at the time, which are performed in the many outdoor theatres at any of the Disney theme parks.
I personally believe that's where Disney should keep its stage productions in the theme parks. I was very happy by the 4 wins for Cabaret! Even though it was a bit daunting and uncomfortable to sit on a canned back chair at a little table to watch the show it did win me over, and ended up moving and haunting me for days after seeing it, because of the great cast not million dollar special effects.
Over all the Tony award show was a letdown. A perfect example of the lower energy level this year was the opening number. I thought the opening with Rosie singing along with various casts to fun songs last year was upbeat, and cute. This year Rosie looked bored the whole show and the opening was just awful made even worse by the Norma Desmond version of Memory. Rosie used to be funny when she spoke out about what ever was on her mind, now when she is delivering such lame jokes that were written for her by talentless writers she looks miserable, and all of us who watch her are just as miserable as she is with the bad jokes. Lets all hope that next year will be have better musical numbers and more energy like last years ceremony!
From James & Lynda Dunckley:
I think that Ragtime and Lion King were getting so much attention and awards, when brilliant and moving musicals such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and Side Show were sadly overlook. I admit that the costumes in Lion King are amazing, but basically it's just a more lavish version of the movie, I personally find the show irritating. Ragtime is a fantastic show but I think that The Scarlet Pimpernel deserved more notice. As for Rosie hosting I think she did a great job, true some of her jokes weren't called for, but she spent more time promoting the Tony's on her show then anyone and she draws in a crowd of not just old time theater goers but people who are just finding out what Broadway has to offer. This is just my opinion. If it offends anyone I am truly sorry.
From Peter George -- Winter Springs, FL:
Mark Malachesky has hit the nail squarely on the head: not only don't Cumming and Richardson deserve their awards for "Cabaret," I don't believe that this production should have been allowed into Tony consideration. It is not a Broadway show in scope, size, or quality of production values. The performance are amateurish, with exception of Mary Louise Wilson and Ron Rifkin.
The best performance by an actor in a musical this season is being given eight times a week by Douglas Sills in "The Scarlet Pimpernel." He is the driving force behind that production: his singing is superb in a wide range of song types, and his acting is some of the best I've seen in my 30 years of theatre going.
I also believe that the ladies from "Side Show" were robbed. Misses Skinner and Ripley individually posses more stage presence and vocal talent that the entire companies of other productions.
From Matt H.:
Let me begin by saying that I am OUTRAGED that The Lion King won Best Musical!!!! I saw Ragtime and Lion King back to back one Sunday and can tell you that while The Lion King is brilliant visually, Ragtime is the human story that touches and changes a person. I am very disappointed in the Tony voters for once again letting the finest musical of the season walk away without the Best Musical prize after snubbing The Life last year. At least the goddess of the musical theater, Audra McDonald, won again. And no, she should not take herself out of contention as someone else suggested. She should never leave Broadway. Besides, Audra still has to move up to the leading categories. Let me just say that I had a hard time sleeping after Ragtime was handed its loss. RAGTIME is the finest musical I have ever seen!!!!!!
From Michael A. Son (email@example.com):
I'm Michael and I come from the Philippines. (By the way, June 12th will mark our Centennial. Lea Salonga also comes from my country, you know.)
I really believe that Brian Stokes Mitchell was robbed of the best leading actor in a musical award. From the beginning, the path was paved for his victory. I was stunned by his brilliant performance that it left such an impression on me when I left the theatre. I wasn't able to watch Cabaret so I would just like to ask if Alan Cumming's role required as much emotional depth as compared to Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime. That role for me tackled such great depth and complexity that I just couldn't let Stokes be ignored. I also heard that Alan was half-naked in some parts of their show. Maybe what he deserved was the best BODY of a leading actor in a musical.
And what is all this fuss about Lion King? Ms. Taymor really deserved her two nods but the show? Nah! I was expecting Ragtime to win most of the awards. It's great that Audra won her third Tony in 6 years. More power to her! The score was truly breathtaking. The book was spellbinding. Congratulations to the show's creators!
I was also disappointed with Marin's loss. She was such a fitting mother. The character looks tailor-made for her. I hope she wins sometime; this is already her second loss! I would also like to ask why the opening of Ragtime looked much less dramatic than how it was performed in their regular runs. Was their number rushed? No fair! To all the DISAPPOINTED Ragtime fans out there: You are not alone!!! More power to Ragtime!!!
From Michael J. Norman:
Here are my comments: Okay, so what's the deal with the whole commercial question and the Tony's? I agree that the Lion King and Phantom are commercial, but they're also great works! As one comment said of Phantom and Into The Woods, which is still running? Come on, now...let's not be too judgmental. Phantom is a good show. The score might be a little repetitive (to say the least) but the story is still well told and the musical is very well crafted--its a complete package, and after all that's what the BEST MUSICAL award is all about. Same is true of Lion King. I mean, personally, I felt that RAGTIME should have won, but I don't take anything away from Lion King... Those who argue against Phantom, I have one thing to say to you: Watch for falling chandeliers! LOL...I mean this whole thing in the kindest way possible Remember: the theatre community needs to stick together...so please don't waste too much time in arguing petty things Thanks.
I write to note that the grandest performance of the evening came at the start of the show. Patti LuPone proved what a true diva is and what she remains. Almost two decades after her performance in Evita, LuPone showed that a performer's voice perseveres and develops. Of the opening trio of divas, LuPone's voice alone has withstood the test of time. Jennifer Holliday seemed flat and uninspired and Betty Buckley seemed so outdated and aged, unfortunate since I have enjoyed them both. For my entertainment dollar, it seems clear that Patti LuPone could stride onto the stage again as Evita or anew in any part. Someone get that woman a musical, please!!!
From George and Earlene:
I was also shocked that LION KING won best musical. While it was stunning in the costumes, lighting, and some noteworthy performances, the BEST MUSICAL is that - what was the best? RAGTIME, by far. It was the classic American musical, with depth, feeling, emotion and clearly several unforgettable performances - bravo Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie - in my humble opinion, you were robbed.
Alan Cumming did not even had the civility to leave his water bottle at this seat!The unforgettable performances and emotion that is RAGTIME should not be missed. But, perhaps like other non-best musical winners, RAGTIME will remain a fixture on Broadway and around the nation. While Lion King is good, how long before we see it replaced with HUNCHBACK, or MULAN, or some other Disney creation?I applaud the resurgence of the Great White Way and congratulations to the winners and to the cast of RAGTIME - BRAVO and THANKS for the BEST MUSICAL experience of 1998!!!
From Butchboy Studios:
Ragtime best music. Gag me. No lion king should not have won for music, but SIDE SHOW YES!
I was rather disgusted with the bias of the Tonys this year. All of the attention went to "The Lion King" & "Ragtime" It seems as though no one even cared about "SIDE SHOW" or " THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL" Granted they might not have won any Tony's, but no one really gave them a second look or a first glance to begin with. I mean the category for Best Musical does have 4 nominees correct? Then why was it treated as though there were only two?!? Each show that's nominated is nominated strictly because they deserve it and therefore should DEMAND the same amount of acknowledgement. The more I think about it the more disgusted I get.
Honestly, I have only seen one of the shows nominated being "The Scarlet Pimpernel" which I believe to be a fantastic show and should have had the same amount of acknowledgement, but I don't think anyone even knew it existed right up until the performance of "Into the Fire" towards the end of the Tony's. The same goes for "Side Show"
The Stories told in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Side Show" deserve more than what they got. I have seen many Tony award winning productions and I believe that "The Scarlet Pimpernel" was every bit as good as them and in some cases far better!!!
So Disney has conquered Broadway too... that is just so... sad... I shuddered every time I heard "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Watch out for "It's a Small World" the musical... two pure hours of bratty child actors twirling across the stage singing the same thing over and over... I just feel sorry for Nathan Lane having to present that award. Whatever happened to the good ole original plays? And who-hoo to Tom Murphy and his "feck"--at least someone was a little different with their speech.
From GERRY SLOAN:
The Tony Awards are meant to be a celebration of theatre, if that is the case then they should have been evenly shared out to the nominees.
Yes "Lion King " is visually stunning but it has a very weak book and score. It is an artistic triumph but on the strength of its score alone the award should have gone to "Ragtime". Maybe a statement was being made about the lock out of Disney when "Beauty and the Beast" opened and all the business they have brought back to New York. Best actress should have gone to those "side-show" girls. Will there ever be a performance like that again anywhere in the world? Oh and please don't carp about non Americans winning over local talent. In London "Beauty and the Best", "Once On This Island", "Assassins", "Sunday In The Park with George", "Crazy For You", "Kiss Of The Spider Women" and most recently "Chicago" have all won over our musicals. Theatre is to be welcomed, it is to be diverse and its important to share the talent, lets just be grateful that this talent is available and on display. Shame to see "Pimpernel" locked out ala "Jekyll and Hyde".
Oh well here's to next year and the lock out of "footloose". Broadway has a wonderful community but it would be nice to see some other shows get some support e.g. what happened to Sarah Jessica Parker last year who gave a breathtaking performance in "Mattress", we'll never know.
I totally agree with majority of the people that Ragtime was cheated out of a Tony. Just because the Lion King is technically superb does not mean that it is a substantially superior musical to Ragtime.
Duh! Hello! Best Score! Best Orchestration! Best Book of a Musical! And not Best Musical?
No way!!! RAGTIME is one of the most brilliant musicals I have ever seen. I've seen it four times - my first time in Toronto a year before it came to Broadway. Don't get me wrong, THE LION KING is an artistic visual display, but Best Musical, it ain't! I was at the Tonys and I couldn't believe the many brilliant aspects of RAGTIME being snubbed. Why?