Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tonys -- Part 2

Tony Awards   Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tonys -- Part 2
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.

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 second file of posts:

From Michael Stevens:
Well, I won't sully a very suspenseful and professional evening with criticism. While the nuances and complexity of Ragtime made it a superior show in my mind, subtly is - de facto- subtle. Julie Taymor's exuberant unity of vision and execution proved to be the favorite of those who vote. As long as apples and oranges are forced to be compared every year someone has to choose a favorite that others may disagree with.
My congratulations to all of the shows that marked this memorable season as well as to Rosie O'Donnell who has done more good for Broadway than a risky joke could ever damage. I hope that everyone behind the Tony show and the productions themselves can feel pride at all that they have done for those of us who love the theatre. Extra kudos to the American Theatre Wing for establishing the hopeful trend of women directors' getting recognition for giving us pieces of the world from another point of view.

From McAllister:
I just have to say that I am overall thrilled with the Tonys! The Lion King DESERVED to win and I am thankful that it did. Sorry, Garth, you couldn't buy this Tony. I think that Alan and Natasha were amazing in Cabaret and think that they were both well deserving. I feel that both tech and score, book etc awards were justly handed out. For best director, I am so proud to be from MA where Julie Taymor is from and I think she deserves idol status with what she did this year! My big complaint however comes in the supporting actress category. Hello? did the Tony committee happen to catch Lion King on a night that Tsidi Le Loka had off? Come on, Audra has won three, give it a rest, she was good in Ragtime, but Le Loka was amazing and she deserved to win!!!!!!! Other than that, I must say decisions were well made.

From Piano543:
I was definitely shocked with the Best Musical Category going to the LION KING. I wish the award could have gone to a more fresher show like RAGTIME or SIDE SHOW. Forget the Scarlet Pimpernel.
What I have found with the last two years of the BEST ACTOR & ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL AWARD is that the Tony has gone to actors & actresses who were in musical REVIVALS (Chicago & Cabaret). I think that a new category should be made for Best Actor/Actress in a Musical Revival, because sometimes the role is just so good, that it has to win the tony, taking away the chance of any actor/actress who plays another role from a new show, but is much better.
I really felt that Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner should have taken the Tony for Best Actress. Their performance brought me to tears. They are just amazing.
I saw CABARET, and to tell you the truth, it's not so good (in my opinion). Alan Cumming & Natasha Richardson were kind of lousy; and I was really upset when they took their Tony's.
I have to say BRAVO to Ragtime; for the musical is just so exquisite and moving. I knew for a fact that they would get the Best Score. Congrats to Audra on her 3rd Tony. She is da bomb!
I'm still upset about SIDE SHOW not winning any awards because it really deserved the BEST ACTRESS, and possibly BEST MUSICAL AWARDS. It was just such a great musical, and I would do anything to see it again. It's a shame it didn't receive any awards.
Anyway, Congrats to all of the winners and the nominees.

From Lewis, Nicholas
Now, I have seen all the shows except the Scarlet Pimpernel so I feel like I can at least make educated remarks. With all the objectivity I can muster I still do not understand how Brian Stokes Mitchell did not take home that Tony!!! I mean the man carries an entire show! His voice is sensational and his acting, what is going on here? The MC? Really, the Tony committee should be ashamed. From an acting standpoint Cumming was ok, not bad, but nothing special. Actually, he was very annoying but I am trying to be objective, remember. Watching Cumming win was like seeing the pupil slap the teacher in the face. I was upset that John Leguizamo didn't win and that his mike didn't work. Plus, his show is not a stand up act and I hope people don't think that it is. Freak is totally moving, heartfelt, and crafted by a true artist. (Alan cumming should have perhaps seen Freak first!)
And for all those who don't know, Side Show should still be running. The twins, as everyone is referring to them, were amazing. If you thought that was great you should have seen them in the show. Natasha Richardson can't sing! Hello! The category was best actress in a musical, not well known actress relying on the fact that the character she portrays is supposed to be second rate in a musical. (Where's Liza with a Z when you need her?) I would have been happy if anyone else one because they at least can sing.
And I am glad Audra M. won. The girl can sing. What more do you want from her? She can't help the fact that she is so talented.
And poor Rosy! I love me some Rosy O. but that dress and those negative jokes. But then again, she was still better than Alan Cumming who I hope will be Going back to Europe soon.

From SchmoNo2:
My complaints have nothing to do with who won (that will never match up 100% with what I want, so why worry)? What bothers me is CBS' absolute insistence on the 2-hour block. They seem to push crossover presenters from TV and film who appear on stage but then they cut to a commercial before Sean Connery gives his acceptance speech as a producer of "Art."
Then, as the 2-hour mark is approaching -- Nathan and Rosie are rushed along to get it off by the top of the hour as if they were afraid they would be shot dead on the spot if it went 1 minute over. What is the point? Do they think next year's ratings will markedly increase if people hear they got the show in on time? "Gee -- they did it in 2 hours -- now I'll watch." Do they believe people are just killing time watching the show until their local news comes on? I think with the diminished audiences for the broadcast networks anyway the broadcast should be given to a cable outlet like A&E which would give it the time and respect it deserves.

From rfazzolari:
I attended the TONYS last night at Radio City and thoroughly enjoyed the show. The time constraints took a little away -especially toward the end of the night. Rosie O'Donnell was great and her jokes during commercial breaks were hilarious. Too bad they couldn't be broadcast. I agreed with most of the awards. HOWEVER, while I enjoyed ART, I did not think it deserved Best Play over Beauty Queen. Beauty Queen won for Best Direction, Featured and Leading Actresses, and Featured Actor and it is difficult to comprehend how it was not considered Best Play by the TONY voters. Was something else at play here??? When the Best Play was announced, the audience reaction in Radio City was fairly muted and I saw many shaking their heads in disbelief. But overall, it was a phenomenal evening!!!!

From frankd:
Bravo to Natasha R. and Alan C. -- the best performances of the season in the best show on Broadway. (Sorry, "The Lion King" is not a show, it's a pageant.)
Rosie O'Donnell has no class and looked like the Liberty Bell. The opening Diva number was fun but a bit scary with Jennifer H. singing like her life depended on every note and Rosie an unwelcome intrusion. They should have gotten Barbra Streisand for that number.

From Zachary S. Shannon:
I just want to give an honorable mention to the Side Show gals, Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley. Sure they didn't win, but they were talented, classy, and proud. They presented an extremely classy performance against the other equally great musical numbers; it would have been easy for them to get lost in the glitz and grandeur of the other performances, but they made a truly remarkable showing! Without elephants, swords, or a plentiful chorus they were able to touch me. Way to go, Emily and Alice!

From kadam:
I must say that the Tony Awards were excellent this year. Most awards went with the favorites as expected. Ragtime and The Lion King swept the awards for the musical categories and for the most part they truly deserved the awards. However I must say I felt that the show The Scarlet Pimpernel was neglected during the ceremonies. The show is absolutely excellent. It's humor and story are light and yet enthralling. The music was great and the cast nothing short of spectacular. Douglas Sills is an artistic genius in the role and should have truly deserved an award. He invokes every emotion and carries the energy for the entire cast. Terrence Mann was also> neglected. While his character is much smaller, he puts so much into it. I believe it is the fault of advertisers that this show is not doing as well as its competitors. My sincere congratulations goes to all the winners and all those who worked so hard but did not take the award home. From Anthony Frisina:
I must say, that for all of the awards, especially Best Musical, I was VERY happy. There was one though, which I was very upset with and that was for Best actor in a Musical. Douglas Sills was BRILLIANT in his role, both vocally and acting wise, and I feel that some nod should have been given his way for his performance. I haven't seen "Cabaret", so I can't judge about Alan Cumming's performance, but from what I saw at the Tony's, he was wrongly awarded. The award, hands down, should have been given to Mr. Sills. Other than that mess up, BRAVO and congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

From Alessio & Lenora Tringali:
Wow!! First I'd like to say that I think last night was one of the best Tony Awards show I have ever seen, out of the mere four years I have been watching. I thought the show was extremely well put together, with O'Donnell a lot more comfortable in her role as host of the evening. The Opening Number was truly great, especially Jennifer Holliday belting out her song, and desperately gasping for air towards the end of the number.
I can honestly say I enjoyed watching the entire three hours and liked all of the musical numbers which performed. I was surprised at how much I liked CABARET and look forward to seeing it. Not having yet seen Lion King I also was taken aback by the beauty of this also got me thinking that if they did not have the spectacular costumes that they have, I wondered how much of a show they would have, since the show heavily relies on visual effects. All in all, I was thrilled with the Tony Awards. My only problem was that I really wanted Marin Mazzie to win for RAGTIME, but who am I to judge when I have yet to see Cabaret. I look forward to next year's Tony Awards.

From Nick Richtsmeier:
Well, to agree with most other comments, the Tonys were a glorious spectacle as usual. It was a show very well produced and at least this year Rosie could be herself instead of some director's peanut shell version. The Divas number was spectacular though not quite as impressive as last years medley. There's always next year, Rosie!!
I must say though that the greatest disappointment of the evening was the underappreciation for what is quite possibly one of the greatest musicals, RAGTIME. It is undeniably moving from beginning to end with breath taking performances from every cast member. In my opinion, RAGTIME was shortchanged the three awards it probably most deserved - Best Actor: Brian Stokes Mitchell, Best Actress, and Best Musical. As visually impressive as THE LION KING may be, RAGTIME is pure theatre. It can move you to tears, joy, laughter, tension and relief all in its all to short 3 hours. What a pity that one the greatest musicals of its time is short changed because of the appearance of a flashy but unfulfilling Disney production.
I can only hope that theater goers will continue to give RAGTIME the credit it deserves despite the poor decisions of the Tony voters. "Justice was a battle, and justice was denied..."

From David Combs:
I wish that the best director awards had been on the CBS part of the show . They should have been announced along with best show and best actors . I missed both of the best director acceptance speeches... damn. What did they say ? My other comment is Congratulations to the Irish !

From Davi:):
I think the Tonys were presented well, Rosie was enjoyable as the host but I really did not like her dress. I am glad that Lion King won, the number they performed was spectacular, but I would've liked to see Ragtime win since I feel it is the best show overall. I'm glad that Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson won for Cabaret. The Sound of Music kids were cute, and i really liked the Cabaret song. The song from Ragtime at the beginning was amazing. Overall I thought the Tony's were enjoyable, they were the best awards ceremony I've seen all year.

From Josh Schonauer:
I was actually quite pleased with the Tonys except for a few things. First of all, what's up with "Art" beating "Beauty Queen"? That's just crazy! While "Art" is ok, "Beauty Queen" is darkly brilliant, and deserved the award. Second of all, while Alan Cumming did a nice job with the Emcee, he cannot sing. Brian Stokes Mitchell, the triple threat from "Ragtime", should have won that one hands down. Third of all, kudos to putting Audra McDonald as best featured actress. She plays Sarah with such emotion and she deserved it. Not saying that Tsidii Le Loka didn't, but Audra was more powerful. Now, to my biggest rant. "Lion King" over "Ragtime"? No! These shows are obviously totally different. That's why I think that there should have been a tie. And if there wouldn't be a tie, this award should belong to "Ragtime". All "Lion King" is is a movie spoof with nice costumes and lights. It is a very good show, but not much of the actual show is unique. Without the movie, Taymor would have had nothing, even being the genius she is. I was also a little upset that the "Side Show" girls didn't win, but that was really a three way race between them, MARIN MAZZIE (my favorite), and Natasha Richardson. Other than that, nice job with this year's Tonys!

From Rogersouth:
It was like the "Into the Woods"/"Phantom" thing all over again!!! How could a musical win Best Book and Best Score and NOT win Best Musical??!! Is the Tony for Best Musical or Best Production of a Musical? No one would disagree with "Lion King" taking the technical and even the directing awards. But on the printed page, "Ragtime" is the better show. The true test is when amateur productions are mounted years from now. Would a so-so technical mounting of "Lion King" hold a candle to "Ragtime" performed on a bare stage? The voters seemed to get this message with Best Play. All the acting and directing honor went to "Beauty Queen" yet they knew enough to say as a play, "Art" is better.

From StuGross:
The Tonys were a classy evening as usual, but two exceptions must be noted.. I don't think that the Tony for Best Actress in a musical should have gone to Natasha Richardson. Its her first musical, and on top of it , not all that great in it, didn't want to perform at the awards, and all in all, not really Tony award material.
But how can anyone overlook the heartbreak and beauty of the siamese twins of "Side Show", now that's a tony winning performance. Didn't anyone notice the passion and pain on their faces, let alone the glorious voice in song?? That number is broadway at its very best in every aspect, it has emotion, beauty, intelligence and class, Alice and Emily are marvelous in it and truly deserved their award. As for me, they won.
Now the for other exception, who the heck dressed Rosie, that dress was absolutely awful, ugly which i guess they wanted to match with the dumb and classless humor which was given to her. Her one-liners were awful, more suited to the Academy Awards than for Broadway!!!!! Those Ragtime one liners were absolutely inappropriate. I really thought that this position has gone to her head and her overall performance was tasteless.

From --D:
I know Rosie has a TON of good friends. . .why didn't one of them tell her that the outfit she wore(Sapphire blue jacket, black skirt) WAS NOT THE DEAL!
Come on people. . . I design for a living. I don't like to cut down other's work, but what the hell was up with the shoulders in that thing. . . She's a beautiful woman. . . I would Kill to design for her. . . It was the tragedy of the evening!

From Iteach1333:
Well my overall opinion is that the tony judges must all have been mutes who couldn't hear or see anyone agree???? THE LION KING for best musical?? when a show has best score and book doesn't that mean its the best musical????? who knows?? And as fo Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner from SIDE SHOW what else can i say but they are SIMPLY AMAZING and are ten times better than NAtasha Richardson could ever be. Their performance of I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU left me crying it was amazing!!!!! BRING SIDE SHOW BACK YOU IDIOTS!!! I have to say BRAVO to Audra McDonald anyone who thinks that little lion king girl should have got it must be ignorant. BRAVO AUDRA!!!!!! BOOOOOO TONYS!

From Jeffrey Christman, Northwestern University (
I can't believe "The Lion King" beat out "Ragtime" for Best Musical. though I believe that Julie Taymor's brilliant adaption deserved all of the visual awards, such as costume, scene design and direction, I feel that as an OVERALL musical, "Ragtime" is by far superior. "Ragtime" has a superior book, score and takes the audience on a thought provoking journey that changes our lifes and alters us somehow during the three hours we took part in. The story is a beautiful, classic American musical that encompasses all that is perfect in the musical theatre. I was very disappointed to see that its monumentally epic musical lost out to a visually and aesthetically impressive puppet show. "Ragtime" is America, it is OUR story and it is told with depth and heart.

From Bob Stempin:
I thought Miss O'Donnell did an injustice this year on the Tonys, with her off-colored jokes. (There are hundreds of people thinking the same way that I do) After reminding the nominees to be different on their 'acceptance speeches', someone should remind her of her off-color smutty/unkind jokes. I love the girl, but please bring back L & L (Lansbury & Lane) for next year.
And can't sing--so please no more 'diva' numbers in the future.
Of course, I am shocked over the Ragtime/Lion King (Best Musical)..WoW!

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