Playbill Tony Poll: Which Productions Should Win? -- Part 1

Tony Awards   Playbill Tony Poll: Which Productions Should Win? -- Part 1
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

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.

Here are the results so far. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.

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, afterall 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 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 joeb:
ART. A wonderful play given a first class production with THREE terrific performances. It's kind of funny, but it is truly so much more than that. And it doesn't hit you until you are on your way home. Great night of the theater. BEAUTY QUEEN is too dreary and worse yet... so darn predictable.
RAGTIME - In spite of the hubbub about the close race, if the you judge a show on its libretto and score, it really has no competition. Lion and Scarlet are dimwits in this respect, SIDE SHOW was interesting, but it's long gone.
VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE The winner. Why? Because it has made the 1997 1998 theater scene richer by its presence. Need there be any other reason...Oh yes it is brilliantly performed, designed, and directed. A perfect meshing of true artistic talents. That should count for something.
CABARET Winner. No doubt about it. Mesmerizing, fascinating, ugly, repulsive, scary, and hardly inviting...but a wonderful piece of theater. !776 is also a darn fine revival and in another year, it would have been a walk to win the award. But Mendes and company are going to be awfully hard to top.

From Karen B:
Of the nominees, I've seen Ragtime, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Side Show and heard the Lion King. Although Ragtime seems to be a favourite (and I did enjoy it very much), I would like to see The Scarlet Pimpernel or Side Show win. It would be very touching to see Side Show triumph despite its closing, and to see the musical with the most heart win a very deserved Tony. It would also be nice for The Scarlet Pimpernel, due to the fact that it really is one of the most entertaining shows around. It was a brilliant production, full of great performances, especially by Douglas Sills. Winning a Tony could also help it as it seemed to do with Titanic, which had low attendance leading up to the Tonys last year - and now it's one of Broadway's biggest attractions! It would be nice to see that happen to TSP...maybe it would persuade some people to go and see what they're missing!

From: RHart Best Musical-"RAGTIME". Since it's clearly b/w RAGTIME and THE LION KING, I would definitely choose RAGTIME. It has power, heart, and the greatest music/book I have heard in long time. Like many have already said, THE LION KING is pretty much just a puppet show. And 3/4 of its music isn't even original. I hope that the Tony people can do the right thing and give RAGTIME the top honor. Best Revival(Musical)-"CABARET" By far, this one is the best one in the category. Alan Cumming is amazing, and Natasha Richardson is a perfect alteration of Sally Bowles. Any other year, 1776 would win, but it's hard for something like 1776 to go up against a new, brash, exciting production like CABARET. And lets face it THE SOUND OF MUSIC doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell.

From HCK3:
I can't compare all the nominees, as I have only seen "Ragtime." However, it was one of the most visually striking musicals I've ever seen..striking almost to the point of distraction, because I began concentrating on the visuals at the expense of following the story line. Scenes such as the Harlem scene where Younger Brother looks for Coalhouse, the image of Coalhouse's car's destruction , the train leaving Boston, and on and on. It was breathtaking.

From Lauren:
For Best Musical, I definitely think that THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL should win. A lot of the critics panned this work of genius, but it really is the best show to ever appear on Broadway. The cast, especially Douglas Sills, is fantastic, and the music is the absolute best. It is the funniest musical I have ever seen, and I am upset that everyone has been staying away from it just because of the critics' opinion. Ragtime is a great production, but it does not begin to compete with the SCARLET PIMPERNEL. I think that it definitely deserves to win. Side Show doesn't have a prayer, and if I hear anything more about the Lion King, I think I'll regurgitate.
As for best musical revival, what could possibly be better than 1776? Cabaret has a bunch of people who can't sing, and Sound of Music has a bunch of people who can't act. 1776 has a great cast, and it's a great show that's great in almost every way. I think it should definitely win.

From Kevin Manganaro (
Best Musical: WHO WILL WIN : " Ragtime "; WHO SHOULD WIN : " The Lion King ". A fresher show.
Best Actor In A Musical: WHO WILL WIN : Hard to call. I think Alan Cumming; WHO SHOULD WIN : Brian Stokes Mitchell. He's just incredible.
Best Actress In A Musical: WHO WILL WIN : Natasha Richardson; WHO SHOULD WIN : Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner. They were amazing !
Best Featured Actor In A Musical: WHO WILL WIN : Gregg Edelman. I hate " 1776 " !; WHO SHOULD WIN : Peter Friedman ! He was nominated in the wrong category !
Best Featured Actress In A Musical: WHO WILL WIN : Audra McDonald; WHO SHOULD WIN : Tsidii LeLoka. " Circle Of Life " brings me to tears !
Best Director ( Musical ): WHO WILL WIN : Julie Taymor; WHO SHOULD WIN : Julie Taymor !
Best Score: WHO WILL WIN : Steven Flaherty; WHO SHOULD WIN : " The Lion King "
Best Book: WHO WILL WIN : " Ragtime "; WHO SHOULD WIN : Bill Russell for " Side Show "

From Antonio Tan:
Definitely RAGTIME will win Best Musical and CABARET will win Best Musical Revival. Despite THE LION KING's fantastic staging, it can't top RAGTIME's emotional production. And plus, THE LION KING's pop score is probably its downfall, and the book was not up to par with RAGTIME's. CABARET should win Best Musical Revival - it's got a new look with this incarnation - all sexualized and seedy - which makes it a standout production of CABARET seen in years. The new SOUND OF MUSIC isn't exactly the definitive production of the show, but it just doesn't cut it with CABARET.

From Dana Harrel:
Cabaret is the obvious and most appealing choice of the three [revival nominees]. Unlike the other two, Cabaret is not an exact revival of the original - actual changes were made that have improved on the standard. The direction and design is innovative, gritty and exciting. Placing the show in a club setting, then having the actors appear totally unclean and terrifyingly real brings about a show that blows the mind. This show deserves to win and to be around for a long time.

From Mike Garcia:
Best Musical: RAGTIME without a doubt....the opening number left me in tears...the stage was concise and energetic.
Best Play: Beauty Queen of Leenane
Best Musical Revival: excellent rethinking of a near-perfect show
Best Play Revival: DIARY OF ANNE FRANK...another wonderful rethinking of a near-perfect show.

From Ducky427:
I admit that when it comes to Cabaret, I might be just a bit biased; I performed it with my high school last year, before most people knew there was going to be a Broadway revival, and instantly fell in love with the story, the characters, the music...So when a friend of mine ordered tickets to the first Saturday evening performance of the newest stage version, I was ecstatic.
We didn't exactly know what to expect when we entered the Kit Kat Klub on March 19 -- The whole club atmosphere, the bare curtainless stage, added something unexplainable to the anticipation we had been holding inside of us for two months. And ladies and gentlemen, it was well worth the wait... For almost 3 hours I sat in the old Henry Miller Theater in what can only be described as sheer awe. While Cabaret has it's comical moments (did somebody say "2 Ladies" ?), there's an eeriness that envelopes you from the opening note of Willkommen and continues to weave its way through the entire story, right down to the Finale, which has to be one of the most shocking moments in theater history.
Cabaret is a historical tale, and succeeds in teaching us a lesson so powerful that one feels chilled right to the very core long after the cast takes their final bow and the audience has left the building. A good show will be able to reach the audience, make them feel something inside...and Cabaret has done just that. Except it goes beyond reaching for grabs us and pulls us in, refusing to let go, even after the house lights go up. Tony Awards, anyone?

From Alamojohn:
Of the four [best musical nominees] listed, Side Show is quintessential Broadway. Ragtime is brilliantly adapted and wonderful, but Side Show was gutsy; genuinely moving and exquisitely subtle in it's message. It deserves recognition.

From Equs 1:
Ragtime should win the Tony. If Lion King wins i'll be disappointed. Though it has great effects it's just following the direction of the cartoon. Ragtime is a great piece of theater!
Cabaret is going to win. I saw the opening on Rosie. Very scary , yet very good. 1776 also has a chance though. But Cabaret is a great revival.

From Andrew Reith:
BEST MUSICAL: Well, everyone knows Ragtime is gonna sweep and probably win in most of its categories - but if I had my way, I'd like to see Side Show win. Why? Cause, I think it took on a new challenge for Musical theatre, and was challenging for Alice/Emily.....and is overall what I think is deserving - but I think Ragtime or Lion King will win.
BEST PLAY: Without a doubt, this is like the Best Musical category - two strong contenders - Art, the Beauty Queen - I think its gonna be Beauty QUeen - but Art has been breaking records....and who knows! (GO ART!!!)
BEST MUSICAL - REVIVAL: Sound of Music!!! I had the privilege of getting the CD the day it came out, the Do-Re-Mi is so powerful and blows me away, that I keep rewinding the CD just to hear that fabulous high-C! But everyone expects Cabaret - but I've got faith in 1776 or MUSIC.
BEST PLAY - REVIVAL: Diary of Anne Frank. Why? I think its a heart tugging story . . . has a star-studded cast. . . and is really very deserving - and I hope it wins all its noms!!! (if not, Ah Wilderness.... smile )

From Popcorn178:
Ragtime should get everything except best choreography that should go to Forever Tango.

From jmajsj:
BEST MUSICAL: "Ragtime": For all of the eye-candy, costumes, and breathtaking effects of "Lion King", and although Julie Taymor's beautiful visions of the African savannah are brought to the stage with amazing quality, Frank Galati's kaleidoscope of America at the turn of the century combines every element of theatre into one epic evening. All of the emotions are played upon through the music, the sets, and the actors. "Pimpernel" and "Side Show", while well and good on their own, are simply no match for the "Ragtime" juggernaut.
BEST PLAY: "Art"-In a perfect would, "Art" and "Beauty Queen" would tie. However, this world is far from perfect, since likely only one of these plays will take home the Tony. Warchus' fast paced comedy and incredible cast were (at least, for me) more memorable than the characters and shock value of "Beauty Queen".
BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: "1776"-A few months ago, "1776" was a lock for this award. The Roundabout production opened to rave reviews, sold out its limited run, and was moved to the Gershwin Theatre, where it's taken a seemingly simple story and kept audiences on the edges of the seats ever since. "Cabaret" is amazing-but "1776" is just more appealing.
Sadly, I was not able to see any of the nominees for PLAY REVIVAL, so rather than just go by critical info, I'll abstain from voting there.

From P Phatsaphaphone:
Best Musical: Ragtime, Ragtime and Ragtime. Ragtime is just only the best musical to grace a Broadway stage in over twenty years. A classic!!! Broadway history in the making. Just simply one of the greatest shows ever.
Best Musical Revival: Cabaret. The best revival this year.

From The Bells:
For Best Musical, The Lion King, only for the fact that ragtime is somewhat old sounding, and since beauty and the beast lost, lion should win Actor Musical - Alan Cummings, he's so wonderful, words cant express, he's really fresh, and sells the show Actress Musical- Natasha Richardson- a class act, she's powerful, and turns in a smashing performance Supporting Actor- Samuel-E. Wright, for bring a new life to that show Supporting Actress- Audra McDonald- She the best thing in Ragtime, she followed up master class nicely

From: Piano543:
In my opinion, I feel that Side Show is most deserving for Best Musical. I had a chance to see the show and thought it was extremely touching and moving. It was well acted by all of the actors, especially Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner (who definitely deserve the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical). I was kind of shocked when I found out that the show was closing, but hopefully, if it does win most of its awards that it was nominated for (Musical, Actress, Score, & Book) it may come back.

From: DrEvil348 As far as concerning the Best Musical prize, it is a very hard choice. The Lion King, Ragtime, Side Show, and the Scarlet Pimpernel all are wonderful shows. To narrow it down, one must choose either Ragtime or the Lion King. If the prize could be tied, that would be the best choice. The Lion King, is so beautiful in its design and so moving in its direction by Julie Taymor. "The Circle of Life" number should have its own award for excellence. Ragtime is however a true and moving American musical, with a thrilling score and wonderful design. Although it is such a hard choice, I feel that the award should go to Ragtime for its musical themes, although I feel that the prize will be awarded on June 7 to the Lion King, for its creative, innovative design and direction.

From Rodney Swanger, Tokyo, Japan:
BEST MUSICAL: Ragtime is truly one of the most magnificent pieces of art put on a Broadway stage for some time. Terrence McNally has written epic musical theater which has been so seamlessly interwoven with brilliant lyrics and music. This is the kind of musical theater I dream of seeing, and it was a dream come both Toronto and NYC. It's the kind of piece that will continue to reveal additional layers of genius upon every additional viewing.
BEST REVIVAL: Cabaret left me terribly disturbed, fairly frightened, and in awe of the performances. Don't you just love to be shaken up by art? I do! And all this from a piece which I thought I knew ... but little did I know! Natasha Richardson's performance was almost embarrassingly raw, and Alan Cummings was ... well, eerie. It got under my skin. This is no revival; it's a totally NEW reworking of a great theatrical work!

From Chipwich7:
BEST MUSICAL: Well, it's a joke that "Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Side Show" were even nominated (that sound you hear is the bottom of a barrel being scraped). "Lion King" has some stunning visual set pieces and a couple of good performances, but doesn't hold together. The winner: "Ragtime" without a doubt.
BEST PLAY: "Golden Child" doesn't stand a chance. "Freak" shouldn't be in this category because it's basically an extended stand up routine -- not that I didn't enjoy very much. It's just not a play. "Art" and "Beauty Queen" are so different, such a tough call. However, "Beauty Queen" has the it'll take home the Tony.
MUSICAL REVIVAL: Duh! "Cabaret" in a walk. But what a shame that "1776," which had rave reviews is not getting the recognition nor the business it deserves. "Sound of Music" should not even have been nominated.
PLAY REVIVAL: While all four productions are deserving, "A View From the Bridge" has the'll win.

From JLockhorn:
Best Musical - It's clear that it's a race between two shows- Ragtime and The Lion King. While The Lion King may have just a small edge over Ragtime design wise, Ragtime has the sheer emotional power to pull it to the top. The Lion King's book is pitiful, especially when compared to Terrence McNally's brilliant adaptation. Ragtime has one of the best scores ever written for musical theater. There is absolutely no contest. Ragtime is simply the best American Musical ever produced on broadway. SHOULD WIN: Ragtime WILL WIN Ragtime
I don't know too much about plays, so I'm going to stay out of that.
Best Musical Revival - With The Sound of Music only getting the one nomination, it's definitely out. 1776 is interesting, funny, and cute, but Cabaret is brassy, minimalized, and funny, elements that worked out for last year's Chicago. SHOULD WIN: 1776 WILL WIN: Cabaret

From Michael Son, The Philippines:
All my concern are the nominees for Best Musical.
I would be very glad if Ragtime OR Lion King would lead in the awards. Ragtime is a production with such grace and finesse. The Lion King is a lavishly mounted show with mystical and characterized features. The reason I like Ragtime is because of its being true to the Ragtime era. It clearly depicted the turn of the century type of lifestyle and even music. The score of Ragtime is boasts of its simplicity and power; a very hard combination to put together. On the other hand, The Lion King is truly Julie Taymor's imagination active on stage. The design does not conceal the magic but instead, behind the complicated machinery of the sets and the costumes, it reveals a certain mood. Who would ever think of dressing jungle animals as people in African cloths and garments wearing masks or head dresses or even being attached to life-size puppets? Julie is brilliant. I just hoped that there would be a best ensemble award because the power that both ensembles projected to me was so overwhelming. They shine like stars to me.

From Jack Quigley:
The show that should truly win best musical is Ragtime. Ragtime is a master work the interlopes three story lines and makes them one. And what a score it has. The lion king is nothing but a multi million dollar puppet show. Take away it's costumes and sets you have nothing but another vain attempt by Disney to take over more of New York City.

From Bill Liberman :
RAGTIME, ART - haven't seen the revivals (except CHAIRS which I disliked immensely)

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