Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tony Nominations -- Part 5

Tony Awards   Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tony Nominations -- Part 5
Here are more reader reactions to the May 4 nominations for the 1998 Tony Awards.

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.

From OiVeyMan:
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.

From DonaldM982:
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 (
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?

From Mgm79:
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 (
I feel that there were just too many hits on Broadway to supply all of the deserving artists. This was one of the best Broadway seasons I have ever seen. . . If the Tony Voters were to elect everybody who deserved to be nominated then the show would be 48 hrs. long with hundreds of nominees in each category .. . I say even those not nominated (patti lupone..rebecca luker. . . etc. . .etc) all know that they are outstanding . . . why do they need a Tony to tell them that. . .They should all be there for their dedication to their art NOT at the chance to win a Tony. . . PATRICK O'NEILL . . .

From Angel Hart:
Why does the tony board go astray every year?
the fact that Christine Andreas was not acknowledged only reinforces the fact that the tony board should be refreshed to keep up with the changing times of theatre. what a waste of a wonderful asset to this seasons stage.

From donald feltham:
I was very pleased with the Tony nominations. Every year, the nominating committee continues to impress me with how thoughtful their nominations are, especially when it comes to remembering shows that have already closed. I was, of course, delighted with the 4 nominations for SIDE SHOW including the well-deserved joint nomination for Alice and Emily (although I was a little disappointed in the omission of Norm Lewis) and was pleased to see that they resisted the pundits and recognized the weaknesses of Rebecca Luker and Melissa Errico's performances (as well as how poor both THE SOUND OF MUSIC and HIGH SOCIETY were). As for predictions, I only wish to remind everyone that last season THE LIFE had 12 nominations and STEEL PIER had 11 nominations, while TITANIC had only 5, and we all know how that turned out!

From Judy A. Malbuisson:
I would have liked to see The Scarlet Pimpernel walk away with a few more. I thought Terrence Mann did a fantastic job as Chauvelin. I think he should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nomination. I also thought that the lighting design for Pimpernel was awesome. It was one of the best lighting designs I've seen on Broadway.

From Public:
To Ditdahdit8: Sideshow is one of the best shows of this theatre year. It deserved very nom. it got. It will walk away with at least best actress.I hope that you will realize soon how great Sideshow is!
To Hollyjaboo: I also love Sideshow, I have never seen it but It has one of the better scores this year along with Ragtime . I believe that Sideshow should win Best Musical, but Ragtime will win best musical. S ideshow will win best actress.
To R Stack1: Ragtime will win more than just three tonys , it's going to win every thing. The Lion King will win some, but Ragtime will beat Lion King badly.

From Spirit 15:
I was very excited to see Side Show rack up some nominations, but I was surprised that Norm Lewis was not nominated in the Best Featured Actor category for his outstanding performance. Others I would have liked to have seen nominated: F Murray Abraham for Triumph of Love, Terrence Mann for Pimpernel, the choreographer of Side Show (he was able to choreograph dances with two women joined at the hip, and amazing dances they were!), the lighting used in Side Show, and finally the costuming and scenery from Scarlet Pimpernel. Also, Paul Simon's music to Capeman was horrible, it should not have received a nomination. Pimpernel's music, although I did not like it when I first saw the show, deserved a nomination. I could listen to that CD all day, and I am not a big fan of Wildhorn. The score of Lion King, the additional score mainly, is horrible as well. "Chow Down" and "The Morning Report" disgust me, but "Endless Night" and "They Live in You" are terrific. They should actually have a category for Best Song. Mainly, it looks as though it will be a tough race this year in most categories.

From AGArt22:
I am SOOO glad that the nominating committee remembered Side Show! That is definitely a show which was ahead of it's time--it was one of the most fantastic shows I've ever seen--twenty years from now it will be revived and appreciated! Anna Kendrick did a wonderful job in High Society, which I just saw Friday (and which was really pretty awful, except for her!). I don't know why John McMartin was nominated--he overdid his character and there was nothing likeable about the liquor-guzzling dirty old man he played. Alan Cummings deserves the award for Cabaret--that was an incredible theatrical experience, and Natasha Richardson was terrific. I am a big Audra McDonald fan and love everything she's ever been in--she has one of the best voices on Broadway.
All in all, the nominations were on the mark.

From Rogersouth, Buffalo, NY:
I've seen tons of Broadway theatre in my life and still maintain that the evening I saw a preview performance of "Triumph of Love" (2 hours after seeing a matinee preview of the disappointing "Side Show") was one of the greatest nights I've ever spent in the theatre!! The audience was beside itself with pleasure! We rushed to meet the cast afterwards to congratulate them on what we were sure would be a very long run. Needless to say, the reviews were a shock, and its quick closing a tragedy. May it live forever in regional, community and university theatres!!!
The Betty Buckley nomination was almost expected, but to slight Susan Egan (glorious!) and the wonderful Nancy Opel is sad. Any of the men could have been recognized. Maybe in another season things would have been different.

From DAVEYLOW, Middletown, CT:
Here is a list of those I wish had been nominated--Liam Neeson, Jayne Atkinson (for Ivanov), Linda Edmond, Michael Cumpsty, Susan Egan, Tsai Chin. I also wish Peter Friedman and Alison Janney could have been put in the Featured category so they had a better chance of winning. I wish Triumph of Love had been nominated instead of Scarlet Pimpernel. I didn't like Golden Child but I didn't think The Old Neighborhood was great either so perhaps I'm not surprised it wasn't nominated. I think Beauty Queen of Lenane is overrated but the director deserves a Tony for making it seem better than it actually is. I hope Natasha Richardson or Marin Mazzie gets a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. I think the Best Revival of a Play is the strongest category. I know there are a lot of Side Show fans out there but I won't cry if it doesn't win anything.

From Schreiner, Page:
I'm overall happy with the nominations for this years Tonys. I was especially pleased to see Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner get nominated for Best Actress in a musical and to see "Side Show" at least get nominated for Best Musical. I do hope that Alice and Emily win (something tells me that just may happen - I hope I'm right!) All who were lucky enough to see "Side Show" have nothing but wonderful things to say about the show itself.
I'm glad to know that the show will get a shot in Los Angeles and London. I wish the same could have happened with "Steel Pier" from last season. That is another show I feel got way overlooked, though nominated for 11 Tonys, but not given a fair shot in the long-run.
This year I do think that it will be a toss-up between "Ragtime" and "The Lion King" for most of the major awards. There were some shows I saw in their pre-Broadway tryout in Washington, D.C. I thought were very good, but did not make it. I thought the set for "Proposals" was wonderful and am surprised that it didn't at least get nominated in that category. In spite of the bad reviews for "High Society," I'm glad to see John McMartin at least getting a nomination. He is a trooper in this business and has contributed so much! The show has a wonderful cast. I was sorry to see Daniel McDonald not getting a nomination for Best Actor in a musical. A very talented man.
I will be in NYC just prior to the Tonys to see several shows that have been nominated for Best Musical - and one that wasn't. It will be interesting to see what happens on Sunday, June 7th. I doubt there will be any "surprises", so to speak, but one never knows. It should be a very entertaining evening.

From Mari Lyn Henry:
No surprise regarding Lion King and Ragtime. Betty Buckley is a dark horse. While I loved her dazzling portrayal, the show closed too long ago. Too much controversy over Richardson's role, my vote goes to Marin Mazzie. That The Capeman should get any nominations is ludicrous. For my money it is a shame the Tony's don't honor Off-broadway. The best shows I have seen to date are "Pride's Crossing" with an award winning performance by Cherry Jones as well as an ensemble nod and "Dinah Was," both of which deserve Broadway venues.
The Chairs is stunning and those two performers deserve awards.

From Anthony Dee:
That is fantastic news about Scarlet Pimpernel being nominated for the Tonys and rightfully so. In our trip to New York, that was one of the highlights. It was so good, we watched in twice. Our only regret is that Terrence Mann was not nominated.

From SixthXibit:
I am so overjoyed to see SIDE SHOW get everything it deserves!!!! but what about poor NORM LEWIS - he was amazing as the torn JAKE. I am also happy to see Peter Freidmen get a nom. i know my SIDE SHOW girls will take home the Award!!!!

From Steven Youngstein:
In reading the comments from others I keep hearing that there were so many new shows this season. That there were so many choices. I beg to differ. In the musical besides the OVERLY high budget / Big Business "Ragtime" and "The Lion King" musicals were not in excess this season.
Side Show greatly deserved its nominations. Unfortunately the mouse's show will probably get BEST MUSICAL. Everyone is entitled to each others opinions and to trash a show is not my style. We all must remember that there is more to a show than what we, the viewer gets out of it. A lot of Blood, Sweat and Tears goes into every show each and every night. Lets not lose sight of that. And see a show and make your own opinion. Critics are all self proclaimed.

From brady.schwind:
An exciting year with lots of possibilities! Of particular note is the Best Actress in a Musical race. I expected Betty Buckley to be nominated in the supporting category, where I think she probably would have had a better shot. For my money, the real race is between the amazing Natasha Richardson in CABARET and the girls from SIDE SHOW. One point that I haven't heard mentioned before, is that due to illness, Emily Skinner missed almost as many performances of SIDE SHOW as she actually appeared in. Will the fact that many Tony voters didn't see her sway the voting? Hmm...maybe it should have been a joint nomination for Alice Ripley and Lauren Kennedy....

From User:
BRENT SPINER! WHAT ABOUT BRENT SPINER? I was thrilled by his performance in "1776" and I was sure I would see his name under the category of "Best Actor in a Musical." WHY ISN'T IT THERE?!?!?!?!?!
Oh, well. At least they did justice for Alan Cumming, who was also outstanding and will surely win (hopefully). I'm very pleased that Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers from "The Chairs" are nominated. They mastered an impossible show.
I am going to see "Art" this week and am looking forward to seeing all three actors, but why was only one member of the trio nominated for "Best Actor?" I was under the impression that all three (Victor Garber, Alan Alda, and Alfred Molina) are the leading actors. Is it really fair that only Alfred Molina was nominated?
Other than that, I think the Tony nominations are intelligent and competitive choices. It should be a great ceremony this year!

From TrevMyles:
Overall, the nominations weren't too surprising though it's a bit odd that "The Old Neighborhood" was snubbed in favor of "Golden Child" which I saw in San Francisco and thought was an nonsensical mess, unworthy of David Henry Hwang. "High Society" was snubbed for the one nomination it did deserve, design. "Ragtime" will undoubtedly win best score and best book as it deserves to, but I wonder then, will "The Lion King" win best musical as a consolation prize. These things worry me. Every thing that was innovative about "The Lion King" can be attributed to it's director Julie Taymor, not the production itself. It's design and presentation are ground- breaking for the commercial musical, but it's score is merely serviceable if tuneful. "Crazy For You" and "Will Roger's Follies" set the precedent, Let's hope "The Lion King" doesn't prove the rule.
And as for "The Scarlet Pimpernel" . . . well . . . there's not much to say about that now, . . . is there?!?!

From Scott Wintner:
I must applaud for ART which is defiantly my favorite straight play... I did not have the chance to see it in NYC, but I did she the London production and with a cast like the NYC show has I doubt it could be any less than sensational. I have not seen RAGTIME yet... but I have only heard great things. I wish it the best of luck and can't wait to see it soon! Congrats and good luck to all nominees... especially ART! I will be rooting for you!

From AD1222:
I can not believe that any show other than RAGTIME could win the best musical & best score. Marin Mazzie & Brian Stokes Mitchell are both outstanding in their performances. RAGTIME brings back to theater the meaning of theater.

From AbyLynn:
I've just been reading the responses to the Tony nominations and noticed MANY had commented on Betty Buckley's performance as supporting instead of leading. I think they should know that Betty was nominated in the leading category because of her top billing, not because of the size of her role. The same thing happened last year with Joel Gray. His name came before the Title of the musical which means that he was considered leading and not featured. That is a Tony rule. So, even if Betty's part was supporting in its quantity, the only way she could be nominated was in the leading category. I don't think most people realize this. They had to give her top billing because she was the main draw. While I love Susan Egan, if the billing said starring Susan Egan, it probably would have closed sooner. I just thought you might want to post something about the Tony rules, so everyone will understand why Betty was nominated in the leading category. I think that will be a tough win for Betty, but she is the DIVA no matter what! Thanks.

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