Playbill Tony Poll: Which Productions Should Win? -- Part 2

Tony Awards   Playbill Tony Poll: Which Productions Should Win? -- Part 2 The 1998 Tony Awards will be given June 7. Here is a recap of the nominees in the four production categories. Please share your opinion on who should win, and why. Simple lists will not be posted; we want to hear your reasons. Also: make sure to state which category you're writing about.

The 1998 Tony Awards will be given June 7. Here is a recap of the nominees in the four production categories. Please share your opinion on who should win, and why. Simple lists will not be posted; we want to hear your reasons. Also: make sure to state which category you're writing about.

Send responses to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at robert_viagas@playbill.com.

BEST MUSICAL: The Lion King, Ragtime, Scarlet Pimpernel, Side Show

BEST PLAY: Art, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Freak, Golden Child

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: Cabaret, 1776, The Sound of Music BEST PLAY REVIVAL: Ah, Wilderness!, The Chairs, The Diary of Anne Frank, A View From the Bridge

Polls for the other categories are listed separately.


Owing to the large volume of responses, we've created this second file of Best Production choices. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.

From PPenlandjr:
REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL: definitely Cabaret it has been reinvented and you almost can't compare the original to the new. Its a wonderful night of entertainment that makes you question how much you are taking part in the action unfolding in front of you. Its truly about the phenomenon of the 20th century-how Hitler happened.
MUSICAL: Ragtime it is truly beautiful with a wonderful message and wonderful characters.


From Ryan Meldrum:
Best musical Lion King by far. The new music is great. The costumes are to die for. In the traditional Disney way they could have put together a cast and put them in big stupid animal costumes and turned it into Sesame Street live but no, Julie Taymor did not cover up the actor to where you automatically know what he or she is but she dressed them in traditional African and don't forget Japanese clothing to hint at what they are and force the audience to use there own creative thinking to figure out what or who they are. Yes there are puppets in the show but lets face the performer using the puppet is not hidden behind anything, you see the actor. All of the costumes are not things that are new, each one is taken from an art that has been around for thousands of years,Masks, traditional clothing, and shadow puppets, brilliant. The new music is to die for so moving, so moving and so new to the US that I think people here just can't handle something new.
RAGTIME- Now come on folks this show was boring. Now trust me I love production numbers but they are supposed to continue the story. Not in this case, they bring the story to a grinding halt.Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Houdini need to be cut. They have no importance to the story on stage but do in the book. The magic trick at the beginning of act I was so stupid and pointless. This is not Vegas. Yes the set was good but who cares about the set it is like the set for Jekyll and Hyde.The music is OK but not great, if it was not for the cast the music and the show would be really bad.
Best revival - I have not seen Music or 1776 but Cabaret was really bad. I think people say they like it because it is fashionable but lets face it the cast accept a few people are really bad. Natasha Richardson was the worst musical theatre performer I have ever seen on Broadway. Obvious she can't sing but when she sings I thought she would act the hell out of the songs, WRONG, she stood there stiff as aboard scared to death and just tried to sing.The new Ideas for the show don't work. I applaud the attempt to be creative but you have to create so that other people can understand and not be confused. It is obvious that after several moments it the show particularly the end that the audience is left confused.You can tell this by the response of the applause. Raw is good but not that good.


From Amy F. Ralph:
This may be a little biased, considering that of all of the BEST MUSICAL nominees, I have only seen one, but it is the one in my opinion that deserves more recognition than it has received. THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. At first, I did not want to see it, I had heard bad things about it, and even saw the old film version. But once I saw it live and in person, I was floored. I bought the soundtrack that night, and I am still listening to it some 3 months later. It is one of my favorite musicals. If you ask me it has everything, love, humor, action, and tragedy, what more could you ask for.


From NateTMan:
I really think Lion King should win Best Musical. Ragtime is also such a great show also, but it didn't leave me as amazed as I was coming out of The Lion King. I do think the Tonys will vote for Ragtime, because it is all around good, and the Lion King's weaknesses are more focused in one area such as the score. Actually I really don't think the score is THAT bad. Yes Chow Down is ridiculous, but The Circle of Life, Shadowlands, and He Lives in You are very powerful songs. By the way I hope they perform Circle of Life at the awards!


From Lindsay Ribar:
Despite all the odds, I still think SCARLET PIMPERNEL should win! There aren't too many shows on Broadway that can successfully combine adventure, intrigue, romance, swashbuckling, Doug Sills, disguises, witty ad-libs, beautiful music, and tears-in-your-eyes humor all in one, but PIMPERNEL does just that. Another interesting point made by someone who saw the show with me the third time I went: "I've seen a lot of shows, and I have *never* seen an audience cheer like that!!" It's true. I don't know why the producers don't advertise more; I truly think that's the only reason that this show isn't playing to a full house. Those audiences keep coming out of the Minskoff, and they keep coming out happy.... No-one deserves the Tony more than PIMPERNEL.


From Richard Aroyam:
Scarlet Pimpernel and Side Show compromise the category by even being nominated although SS deserves kudos for being a very original idea. I find it consistently amazing that people express opinions about things they haven't seen, especially those who have not seen The Lion King since it is the hardest to get ticket on Broadway in years. Truly seasoned theatergoers also know that a show cannot be judged by a recording. I find it amazing that almost all of the people I know who admit to liking the score of Ragtime were listening to it months before they saw the show. If the concept cd sounds anything like what I heard that one time on the first night in the new Ford Center for the Performing Arts, I am amazed that the show even made it to New York. I must say that I walked into Lion King very biased against some of the backstage talent except Ms. Taymor whose work I really didn't know all that well and I went to Ragtime with the highest of expectations of some of the finest theater artists whom I adore and I was truly surprised in both cases. If Lion King does not win best musical, then the Tony voters should be ashamed of themselves not only for a lack of taste but of their supreme bias against Disney. The Disney folks should be given enormous credit for using the gifted Ms. Taymor to create a work of art as opposed to the anti-septic Ragtime which was most aptly described by Ben Brantley as "much to admire but little to love".


From Jtat327:
I personally think *Ragtime* should win HANDS DOWN!!!!! The show gives you a journey through time, with certain issues that are still present. It also gives you a chance to understand the different cultures, and appreciate the talent that brings you to the place of reality.


From terry: I hope Lion King will win best musical. I haven't seen it yet but the specials have been spectacular. Ragtime has looked impressive too but Lion King just makes me want to get a plane and go see it.


From Bruce Memblatt:
I would choose Side show for Best Musical , this work despite all it's flaws which there are many, the main one being the lack of dialogue and a some what of a cumbersome opening number. is by far the Best show to hit Broadway this season. Not only does it entertain but it challenges you. It makes you look at yourself and the people around you in a different light.- "Who is the freak here?"- the line from "Marry Me, Teddy" sums up the essence of this show. The question is not a new one , but Side Show delivers it with such delicacy, intimacy and strength that one finds themselves captivated under this shows spell. The Score by Henry Krieger is magical. Beautifully crafted it touches the heart , and moves the audience in a way that I have not seen for many years on Broadway.


From: RStack1:
Having now seen all the nominees, I can vote. I probably saw more theater this past year than ever before, Broadway, off, and lots of London in five visits. In general, it was a great year for new plays and for revivals of both modern and classic plays. Not such a great year for new musicals.
Best Musical: "Side Show". This was the only worthy entry I saw anywhere. A terrific concept musical, it played out its themes beautifully through a wonderful score. Doesn't have a prayer for getting an award. The Tony will go to one of the two big hits. While I was thrilled with Julie Taymor's work on The Lion King, all that Disney "comedy" and the limp Elton John Score was crudely interpolated with the good stuff Taymor is best at. Not a "complete" satisfying experience. At Ragtime, I was impressed with the opening number. From then on,
the show disintegrated minute by minute till final curtain when I couldn't wait to get out of there. This show wasn't so much "created" as it was commercially manufactured to be a hit in the style of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classics or like Showboat. The end result was drained of all life. But then people seem to like it, respondents to Playbill On-Line love it, and who am I to say. That one will win the Tony.
Best Play: "The Beauty Queen of Leenane". Tough choice in an amazing year when nominators didn't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with four choices. "Beauty Queen" has the voice of a really fresh and distinctive writer and it works on all levels. I first saw "Art" two years ago in London. I was less impressed with the play itself (not the fine B'way production) the second time around at the Royale. Thought there was a bit less there in the writing than I originally thought. Still a fine play. "Freak" just borders on being a play, but is still one of the best evenings all year in the theater, and "Golden Child" is a very fine work.
Best Musical Revival: "Cabaret" What can one say? One of the great revivals of all time. One of the great nights in the theater of all time! It's probably just what the show should have been like in the late 60's if the sensors would allow it and if the then public would have accepted it. "1776" was a very nicely wrought revival of perhaps the most peculiar hit musical of all time (it's more like a commercial play with 7 or so songs thrown in, but good at that). The other nominee forget.
Best Play Revival: "A View from the Bridge". They brought off what is in many ways a terrific play, but one hampered by overbearing references to Greek tragedy. The direction and acting were sizzling. I rate "The Chairs" a close second for making a dense (but important) 20th century play very accessible.
The other two nominees were just OK.


From Patron:
Ragtime should definitely win best musical. While I love Side Show, it is probably at a disadvantage since it closed so early. It would definitely have had a much stronger chance if it had been able to stay open. As for the Lion King, all I have to say is It's Disney. Alessandrini (creator of Forbidden Broadway) had it right when he rewrote "Be Our Guest" into "Be Depressed."


From Josh Schonauer:
BEST MUSICAL-- "Ragtime" is so powerful. There is such a message of inspiration and emotion behind it. (Remember "Rent" and the inspirational messages? Kinda familiar?) I think for that reason (as well as an astounding cast and indescribable music), it should certainly win easily. Anyone else getting sick of the Disney shows? BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL-- I love the music for "Cabaret", so I am rooting for it.


From Mgm79:
Of the plays nominated this season, nothing comes close to the outstanding revisal of THE CHAIRS. I have seen all of the plays this season (save HERBAL BED and JUDAS KISS) and on the whole (design, direction and performance) THE CHAIRS takes the prize. Now, this play is not for everyone (there are parts of it that I found lacking) but it is not an evening you soon forget. Unfortunately, LaPaglia and Co. turn in a solid production (of a severely melodramatic piece of work) with BRIDGE. This makes for a difficult choice. Both plays are hard to take - THE CHAIRS - just "out there" and BRIDGE - bad television movie-of-the-week but both plays have been carefully re-thought, solidly cast, directed and designed. ANNE FRANK - strong emotional story/good play - blandly presented. Same for AH! WILDERNESS - save the breakout performance of Trammell (Hello sitcom land!) End result is BRIDGE will win the prize, after all its American - the Best Play Tony is BEAUTY QUEEN'S and Miller needs his recognition. LaPaglia will win, as might Janney (in a role that is clearly a supporting role). The Best Actress Tony really belongs to McEwan.


From Conrad Pepin:
I'd like to post my vote for RAGTIME as Best Musical. The show is stunning from the opening number to the final curtain calls. This musical follows in the tradition of the great ones in Broadway's past...Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Evita, Les Miserables, Showboat, etc. The cast is simply magnificent, the music soars, the lyrics are heartrending and inspiring, and the sets are fantastic. Your emotions will run the gamut as the story unfolds in this panoramic view of our country and its past. A truly unforgettable evening in the theater!


From Mhta31:
It was such a great year with so many innovative new shows opening. However, when you view the sheer PROFESSIONALISM of the cast that performs the great show known as RAGTIME...well, it is perhaps the best produced B'way musical in years. I saw the show six weeks ago and haven't stopped singing its praises! The other nominees are due some much deserved recognition...but, RAGTIME and cast are the best.


From JEANNIE JOHNSON:
Also for BEST MUSICAL, again it has to be THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL!!! It's a shame that this fabulous show is housed in such an enormous theater, which makes it difficult to fill. If this show was in a smaller theater, their percent of capacity would ALWAYS be around 97% and that's nothing to laugh at. I wonder why, with all the nominations the show has received, the producers are not promoting it more? There should be more print advertising and also some terrific Commercials.
I, for one, look forward to the TONY Awards this year, and I will be keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed for DOUGLAS and THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.


From Todd Caporizzo:
BEST MUSICAL - RAGTIME -- because it is also the best musical of the 1990's

From Louis Schwebius:
BEST MUSICAL: It's a foregone conclusion that the Tony will be awarded to either THE LION KING or RAGTIME. How do you compare these pieces whose styles are so very different? It's a real toss-up!! For me personally, the images of RAGTIME have stayed with me longer than THE LION KING, so I have to go with RAGTIME.
BEST PLAY: I have to say that, for me, THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE (though boasting good direction and excellent acting) was a slow, unoriginal, predicable, melodramatic disappointment. (What a shame that it will probably win in this category!) FREAK is a wonderful solo monologue for John Leguizamo, but a play?. . . .Get real!! GOLDEN CHILD touched and moved me beyond words as it explored the themes of family, culture, assimilation, religion and self-discovery. (Unfortunately, I don't feel that most Broadway audiences want to do the thinking that this play requires.) I, for one, am extremely disappointed that it is closing! ART is my personal choice for Best Play because of its exploration and dissection of what makes friendships and intimacy work/not work and its wonderful partnering of humor and anger.
BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: I was VERY impressed with 1776; I was equally NOT impressed with THE SOUND OF MUSIC. CABARET is the hands-down winner in this category for its newly rethought conceptual style and presentation.
BEST PLAY REVIVAL: AH, WILDERNESS! was nice and familiar - like wearing a comfortable shoe. THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK had a solid ensemble & timeless material, but it was blandly presented. That leave THE CHAIRS and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE - both of which are powerful contenders for this award. I was blown away by both of these productions, but I think that harrowing absurdism will lose out to passionate realism, so my choice is A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE.


From Ryan Meldrum:
Best musical-Lion King by far. The new music is great. The costumes are to die for. In the traditional Disney way they could have put together a cast and put them in big stupid animal costumes and turned it into Sesame Street live but no, Julie Taymor did not cover up the actor to where you automatically know what he or she is but she dressed them in traditional African and don't forget Japanese clothing to hint at what they are and force the audience to use there own creative thinking to figure out what or who they are. Yes there are puppets in the show but lets face the performer using the puppet is not hidden behind anything, you see the actor. All of the costumes are not things that are new, each one is taken from an art that has been around for thousands of years,Masks, traditional clothing, and shadow puppets, brilliant. The new music is to die for so moving, so moving and so new to the US that I think people here just can't handle something new.RAGTIME- Now come on folks this show was boring. Now trust me I love production numbers but they are supposed to continue the story. Not in this case, they bring the story to a grinding halt.Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Houdini need to be cut. They have no importance to the story on stage but do in the book. The magic trick at the beginning of act I was so stupid and pointless. This is not Vegas. Yes the set was good but who cares about the set it is like the set for Jekyll and Hyde.The music is OK but not great, if it was not for the cast the music and the show would be really bad.
Best revival- I have not seen Music or 1776 but Cabaret was really bad. I think people say they like it because it is fashionable but lets face it the cast accept a few people are really bad. Natasha Richardson was the worst musical theatre performer I have ever seen on Broadway. Obvious she can't sing but when she sings I thought she would act the hell out of the songs,WRONG, she stood there stiff as aboard scared to death and just tried to sing.The new Ideas for the show don't work. I applauded the attempt to be creative but you have to create so that other people can understand and not be confused. It is obvious that after several moments it the show particularly the end that the audience is left confused.You can tell this by the response of the applause. Raw is good but not that good.


From Amy F. Ralph:
This may be a little biased, considering that of all of the BEST MUSICAL nominees, I have only seen one, but it is the one in my opinion that deserves more recognition than it has received. THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. At first, I did not want to see it, I had heard bad things about it, and even saw the old film version. But once I saw it live and in person, I was floored. I bought the soundtrack that night, and I am still listening to it some 3 months later. It is one of my favorite musicals. If you ask me it has everything, love, humor, action, and tragedy, what more could you ask for.


From Pippin9:
The Scarlet Pimpernel should win for so many "reasons" others cite about RAGTIME. The Pimpernel production runs the entire gamut of emotion. Look at Doug Sills -- there is no way "Coalhouse" emotes or sings like Sir Percy!!! The audience at my matinee -- stopped the action many, many times with extended applause -- primarily for Doug's humor and wonderful solos. No one can tell me a show not LesMiz, Phantom, or the "K&E re-runs" that have the audience stopping the show with appreciation so much! I tell everyone "go see it!" I love Ragtime songs -- but as a production -- TSP is tops. 1st runner up is SIDESHOW -- the audience who wept with me -- were ALL on their feet as the final note was sung!!! The feeling on the street after the show was electrifying -- chatting with cast members -- about the reception from our audience. They could "smell a TONY or two"


From Logan, Shawn Tracy:
BEST MUSICAL: The Tony should go to the best musical of the Decade, perhaps the century- RAGTIME. The show epitomized what is great about the theater, pure energy and excitement and performances by the most talented people on earth. In every aspect, design, direction, score, book, orchestrations, and above all, performances, the show was a standout and sheer perfection. I'll say it again, this was the best show I've ever seen. Another reason: The children in Ragtime, Lea Michele and Alex Strange were far superior to the child performers in LION KING. Mr. Strange deserved a Tony nod for Featured Actor but was snubbed. RAGTIME is Broadway at its best and should be rewarded.


From Timothy M. Hanlon:
Best Musical: I think RAGTIME deserves this... the whole production is abosolutly outstanding and excels past Lion King because it has an original score that makes the show come alive, Lion King had more electricity in the air but the story here is adult music that is going to last a long time and RAGTIME takes the prize! Other two are poor contenders because they are not show stoppers in my opinion.
Best Play: Having seen BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE, this is my pick because the originality of the acting is superb and well performed way above a redundant story line of ART, and with better surprises are in store than in Freak and Golden Child.
BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: 1776 is my pick because it runs like a charm, smooth, lively, entertaining all around, Although I believe Cabaret will win, I think the judges need to take a good look again at what 1776 is doing to audiences! I left with more understanding and knowledge than Cabaret!
BEST PLAY REVIVAL: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE! should win, it has a down to earth appeal that surpasses the rest! Diary of Anne Frank was a good story but lacked the continuity and climax that A VIEW just hits right on the mark! BRAVO! I want to know if anyone else heard the line by LaPaglia when he is dying, he exclaims something to his wife that made me hysterical! Please tell me if this was in his script!!!!!


From Josh Schonauer:
BEST MUSICAL-- "Ragtime" is so powerful. There is such a message of inspiration and emotion behind it. (Remember "Rent" and the inspirational messages? Kinda familiar?) I think for that reason (as well as an astounding cast and indescribable music), it should certainly win easily. Anyone else getting sick of the Disney shows? BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL-- I love the music for "Cabaret", so I am rooting for it.


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