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 fifth file of posts. Playbill thanks all those who took the time to write:
I do not understand the self-contradicting Tony nominating and voting committee. First, we have the nomination of The Lion King's score while not too long ago they shunned State Fair et al.. Then we have Art's surprise win over The Beauty Queen of Leenane despite the latter's sweep. And as if that was not enough, they decide to give Disney the Best Musical award even after having voted for Ragtime in terms of score, book, and orchestration. How illustrative of inept voting and clouded judgment!
The Lion King had essentially won everything it deserved to win in the PBS portion. To top it all off, it almost seemed like a set-up to have Nathan Lane of the original Lion King fame to announce the Best Musical award.
As for Best Actor in a Musical, I loved Alan Cumming but I still think Stokes should have won simply because of his sensational bravura.
Well, I suppose I don't have to mention the Ragtime vs. Lion King fiasco. I only have one thing to say about that: The day a musical about ANIMALS triumphs over a musical about PEOPLE is a day I am ashamed to be an artist/theater-goer. I can't deny that Julie Taymor is a genius -- she absolutely deserved her award. But the musical! UGH! The Disney take over of Broadway has officially begun!
I am thrilled for Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming -- what brilliant performances. Cabaret was also one of the most thrilling productions I've seen in years. Unfortunately this stellar revival arrived the year of 1776, which was highly deserving of recognition as well and remains one of my all- time favorite theatrical experiences. So sad to see it close!
If it were any other year, the Best Actor Tony would have gone to Brian Stokes Mitchell. What a shame he had such competition.
And I can't get over Audra McDonald and her third Tony- totally deserved, but an amazing fortune, nonetheless! Those of you who feel Ms. Richardson is undeserving of a Best Actress in a Musical Tony must realize something: the award is Best ACTRESS in a musical. It is not for Best Singer. Sally Bowles is an acting role (thanks for reminding us of that, Natasha!), and this character just happens to sing. Ms. Richardson did not sing on the Tony's because she is not a singer -- she only sings when the role calls for it.
How about creating an ensemble award? The casts of 1776 and Art were sadly overlooked. The entire cast of 1776 was so top-notch, it was near impossible to single one person out.
I have one final question: Why do we care? I ask myself that question all the time. We didn't vote. We know what we like. It's just sad that the outcome of the Tony's has such intense power over a show's future.
In regards to the Tonys; I don't understand how a show can win Best Score and Best Book and not win Best Musical (since these would seem to be the main components of a musical).
Although I loved Lion King, Ragtime was a far superior show. Even though I haven't seen the revival of Cabaret, I can't believe any one could have topped the performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell (someone really needs to put a shirt on Alan Cumming!!!).
Now lets talk about Rosie O'Donnell. She looks so relaxed and natural on her talk show, but not when she has host the Tony's these last two years. She did a fine job on the opening number, but the rest of the evening looked rigid. The dress didn't help her either. . . she doesn't need something that makes her look heavier. And why doesn't she host the PBS portion of the show. It makes that hour appear less important.
Bravo to PBS for airing the first hour of the Tony's again. I only wish the entire evening was aired on PBS. Without the commercials, Nathan Lane may not have had to rush through the most important award of the evening.
I am a former New Yorker and Broadway fan and have eagerly watched the Tony Awards for the past 25 years. Prior Tony awards broadcasts have provided theatre aficionados with a glimpse of the theatre and the talented people who work in the profession, and have done so with class, integrity and decorum.
That is, until Sunday night. Sadly, Rosie O'Donnell provided the worldwide audience with her own special blend of crude and tasteless humor in her efforts to "get a laugh," and in so doing lowered the professional standards of previous Tony broadcasts. Her remarks at corporate sponsorship of Broadway shows (e.g. Tampax sponsoring productions of "Ragtime" -- just to name one instance) were in bad taste, were totally unnecessary, and I believe, reflect poorly on the Tony awards and Rosie herself. Rosie is a popular and gifted performer with exceptional charisma. Given her love and support of the theatre and the acting profession, I hope that her comments on future Tony presentations will be in keeping with the professional and tasteful standards of past Tony awards programs.
From Curtis Timothy Sudduth:
First of all Audra McDonald DESERVED her third Tony. She has a tremendous amount of talent which we see with her third Tony. Not just in musicals but straight plays too. Secondly, "LION KING" was the king of the Tony's. It deserved to win just as much as "RAGTIME" I love both shows equally. They are both stunning shows. But what about BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL...he is amazing as Coalhouse. Alan Cumming is all right but I thought that Mr. Stokes Mitchell deserved the award more.
From Stephen Oles:
I was very impressed by how tight and well rehearsed the show looked. The musical numbers were so smooth, I couldn't tell if they were lip-synched (I'm assuming they were, for practical reasons). Although some of the thank yous went on a bit long, the Grammies and Oscars should take note of how to keep an award show on-track.
Rosie O. was an effective host. The Scarlet Pimpernel number was a surprise: really riveting, and MUCH better sung by Douglas Sills than on the record. He sounded (and of course looked) great.
I knew that pious bore "Ragtime" would win awards it did not deserve. McNally's lifeless, preachy, strenuously "politically correct" book and the utterly forgettable score were commended, but I bet no one will remember this show a few years down the line. How can anyone defend the show's bland MUZAK tunes, especially when the vibrant, innovative, memorable SIDESHOW score appears the same season?
"Ragtime" is the epitome of the preachy show people leave feeling they SHOULD HAVE loved, then convince themselves they DID love. It has no heart, no characters, no music ... just a lot of stale 1960s left-liberal ideas we've heard a thousand times. Take away the spectacular staging and what's left? Pretension, mediocrity, and a few Tonys.
From Jack Quigley:
Ok, first question to pose is how can a show get best book and score and not get best musical? Ragtime should have gotten best musical as well. Bravo to audra ann for getting it once again.Now for the big losses, first supporting actor, should have went to gregg Edelman for 1776 and the side show girls SHOULD have gotten best actresses. but over all was pleased with the winners.
From Caras, Larry (CARASLD):
Good show (thank goodness theater folk don't make their award presentations into an endless and boring evening like movie folk) !!!
Can we let Rosie's Broadway rah-rah's end on her daytime talkfest ??? Let a theater aficionado host the show. She is so out of place on that telecast. Give her a front seat in the theater the evening of the telecast. Her part in the theater is played out in the audience and that is where she should be on Tony night.
I was disappointed that John McMartin didn't win for Best Featured Actor. I was also surprised about Audra McDonald winning for Best Supporting Actress (like she needed another Tony). But the one thing that really made the night a disaster was Best Musical. All I have to say is...LION KING! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!
I was disappointed in the Tony voters this year. I could not believe that Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner didn't win for best actress. The part demanded such ability both vocally and acting wise. I never got to see the show, but from the recording, it is obvious that they both had that. The same goes for Brian Stokes Mitchell...(Stokes).. He was amazing in "Ragtime", in my opinion, and sings with much more passion than Alan Cumming. He was deserving of a Tony award and it is so disappointing to see these actors denied the honor. Obviously the judges forgot that they were voting for best actor and actress in a MUSICAL!!!! Other than that, I loved the show and the opening was so uplifting and was a reminder what Broadway is about. If those same Diva's were competing this year, it's a wonder who would win. . . with this group of voters!! A scary thought.
I guess have to begin with the fact that The Lion King won best musical. What is that? I guess Tony voters are blinded by spectacle. I mean is the Lion King just a rehash of a film? And two years ago when State Fair was nominated, the entire score was not allowed to be considered, yet the Tony Committee gives full consideration to the Lion King score? Where is the precedent in that? Personally, I believe that Disney has little place on Broadway if all they are going to do is recycle old cartoons and attempt to mass produce American culture (but that is editorializing).
As far as the acting awards go, I am thrilled for Audra. I mean honestly if she is the best performance it shouldn't matter if she has 3 or 30 Tonys, she is deserving and should win. While I do like Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell and feel they are wonderful performers, Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson are literally amazing and deserved the award head and shoulders about the rest. I have to admit the fact that the Side Show twins were nominated together was rather ridiculous. I mean they were playing TWO different characters. And wasn't the whole point of Side Show that here are these two women and although they are joined, they are separate people with distinct thoughts and personalities?
I thought Rosie was wonderful as usual. Although the opening number could have done without Betty Buckley and Patti LuPone.
All in all a very mixed evening.
From Karen B.:
I was extremely shocked that The Lion King was awarded for Best Musical. I know The Scarlet Pimpernel and Side Show basically had no chance (which was too bad - both were wonderful.), but Ragtime deserved that award so much. It is such a rich, intelligent, moving show and I have absolutely no idea why the commercial hype won over the true quality...I thought the Tonys were above that. Other people I thought should have won: Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner..their performance had me moved to tears not only in the show, but last night at the awards. They were such deserving candidates, along with the other majorly overlooked nominees Douglas Sills and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as they all have not only such immense talent, but because they express such enthusiasm and joy when performing the roles that they have devoted so much of themselves to. So, although I enjoyed the production numbers and Rosie O'Donnell's hosting job, I was rather disappointed by the Tonys this year.
From Lee Ann Holly, Ohio:
I really enjoyed the Tonys. Special kudos to Rosie O'. I was disappointed that Brian Stokes Mitchell did not win.. I guess i never considered the Emcee a principal role, but rather a featured one. I'm so proud of Julie Taymor!! GO GIRL!!!! I think separating the technical awards is a good idea,but I might put the directing awards in the main show.
From Kent Hansen:
I guess I'll never understand the Tonys. How on one hand THE LION KING can win (and deservedly so) for design, costumes, choreography and directing, while RAGTIME (the only show with superior singing, dancing, acting, story and content all be wrapped up in one package) is ignored for Best Actor (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and Best Musical is totally beyond me. Regardless of the Tony count, all those who are paying attention know that RAGTIME is the Best Musical!
In a larger sense, however, an unsettling trend is occurring in Broadway theatre that will ultimately destroy the theatre itself. Shows that pander to the worst in humanity seem to be the vogue now. CABARET, a charmingly decadent show when it was first produced, has become a vomitous celebration of immorality. Last year's THE LIFE and the revival of CHICAGO glorified humanity's most disgusting traits. Those who hide behind freedom of expression ignore the responsibility that is attached to all freedoms.
It saddens me deeply that theatre that uplifts and inspires is being pushed aside by productions that demean and degrade. At least this year we have RAGTIME, THE LION KING and THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL to lift us.
From CHRIS B.:
Well, I was disappointed in the Tony awards this year, and this whole Theatrical Season on Broadway. Many shows that have GREAT potential were buried by the corporate powers of America.
LION KING, though technically superior to all shows that opened and were nominated for Best Musical, was unjustly given the award for Best Musical. Though my sentimental favorites were SIDE SHOW and THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, I was rooting for RAGTIME in the Duel of Corporate powers between Ford and Disney because of its superior story, music, and overall presentation.
In a previous listing someone said "how can a musical win best book and music and not be considered the best musical?" This confuses me also... anyone have an answer? Anyway, i believe that not only were Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner Robbed of the Best Actress award but they also received a slap in the face during the broadcast-- The Tony people knew who would win the Award and should not have had The Twins Roof Raising Performance right before their category only to give the award to the less talents Ms. Richardson, who herself said that she had no musical theater experience, instead maybe that should have put CABARET where SIDE SHOW was(a later time slot to hide the raciness) and put SIDE SHOW where CABARET was.
Also Douglas Sill, had the critics been more receiving of his Fun show in THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, would be the new Best Actor in a Musical. SIDE SHOW-- Had it remained open -- How would it have fared? If Broadway wasn't visibly against the musical creations of Frank Wildhorn would PIMPERNEL have won Best Musical for its innovative and fun story? One will never know-- As I conclude this letter I want to say that I am sure that the Tony selection committee had its reasons for selecting this years recipients..however if you listen to the applause after certain names were announced and numbers performed throughout the awards...It would be very clear that who should have won and who did win were different in 90% of the awards presented. I also believe that it was EXTREMELY inappropriate for Rosie O. to announce before the Best musical was Chosen that "LION KING is the best piece of theater I have ever seen", That is her opinion and I respect that however, it was not appropriate to say when she said it Tony Night. And that RAGTIME joke--Extremely inappropriate Thank you.
From B LeCompte:
After my initial shock of Ragtime's loss in the Best Musical category, along with losses for Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell, I used the next day listening to others about their reaction to the awards. I discovered that the Broadway savvy were equally as upset as I about Ragtime's shut out. However, those who have never been to Broadway, or who have families were overwhelmed with the spectacle known as the Lion King. I agree with most that The Lion King is truly a visual masterpiece (although I know children who have seen it who didn't like it, nor do I think that watching puppet birds and human and Lion heads at the same time is all that spectacular, it was more distracting).
Fortunately, Ragtime did win the Best Score, Book and Featured Actress (Congratulations Audra MacDonald), deservedly so. Admittedly in these areas The Lion King is weak. I can't even stand to listen to the off pitch singing of that musical.
Furthermore, I was disappointed in Julie Taymor's multiple wins. When The Lion King first debuted she was a very humble woman, shocked that she was even able to make this musical work, but since the Tony nominations and subsequently the win, she has become even more and more pompous. Following her second Tony win I thought Radio City would have to be expanded to fit her big head.
In case I haven't made it clear, Ragtime is certainly the Best Musical of the year. Like other's have said, The Lion King was a financial vote, and I am disappointed that Tony voters allowed Broadway to become Disneyfied.
May Ragtime have the long life it deserves.
From MIKE (MDCTheatre@ aol.com):
Well, the awards were pretty much as expected in my mind. However.. there were a few exceptions.
1) Alice and Emily were ROBBED of their tony. After seeing Cabaret (or as I am calling it Caba-RENT) I was disgusted that Natasha Richardson was even nominated! I would have nominated the girl in the ape suit over her! Natasha smiled he way through 90 percent of the show. I thought she must have been very proud of her dental hygiene. For a moment I could not stop thinking she was a grown up Tina Denmark! I wonder if Laura Bundy is old enough to play Sally... hmmmmmm. I am Sorry but 5 minutes of shaking and crying does not a Tony deserve!!!!
2) Opening was so boring... Rosie.. live out your demented dreams on your own time.. give me some entertainment! Please.. it was a cute concept when I heard it.. but . . . Jennifer Holliday a DIVA? I ask you... Difficult and Diva are 2 very different things!
3) What was Rosie Thinking??? TIME FOR HER TO GET THE HOOK!! She was a total witch (not the exact word I would choose) before the show and during commercials. She looked simply terrible in that gigantic Titanic thing. her comments were off colored and some were down right RUDE. I really think she has taken on too much being producer and host of the show. . . . Lets not even TALK about her "TONYS preview" (better to have called "My Favorite Things") on her Friday show. I thought it was a shame on that show she chose to show her favorites twice.. and haul out shows from last season and 2 seasons ago.. and left out 2 nominated shows.. The queen of Broadway plays favorites I think! And anyone who was AT the Tonys knows she was not exactly the QUEEN of NICE!! Time for her to cut the crap.. she is not that good an actress!
4) Get that show OUT of Radio City.. It is just too darn big!! Everything is lost on that stage.
5) Give the show back to True Theater Folk!! I am sick of NAMES over true Broadway performers being used!!!!! Let them have their Emmys and Oscars.. I MISS THE TONYS!
I CANT BE THE ONLY ONE???!!!