Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tonys -- Part 3

Tony Awards   Playbill Poll: Readers React to the Tonys -- Part 3
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 third file of posts. Playbill thanks all those who took the time to write:

From Eddie James, Baltimore Maryland:
I loved the show. Rosie was fun and added a nice bit of humor to the proceedings. I loved the opening number, although Jennifer Holliday sounded bad and her face looked strange (I love Dreamgirls and Holliday's performance on the cast album), but it was fun. And is it just me or is Rosie becoming a much better singer? She sounded wonderful.
Now I didn't mind the Lion King winning Best Musical (although Ragtime should have won), but I was very upset that Natasha Richardson won Best Actress. Alan Cumming deserved his award because he got up there and showed the world what he had, but Natasha didn't sing on the show! I wanted to see her sing Cabaret or Don't Tell Mama, but she gave us nothing. I have never seen a Best Actress winner who didn't perform on the show. It was a major slap in the face. I got to see every other nominee do something, but Natasha just sat there. It's sad. I saw her on Rosie and she said that she would rather stand naked in Times Square than to sing on the Tony's. She didn't even sing on the Rosie Show.
My other quibble. I watched the Rosie "Best of Broadway" show on Friday and got to see most of the songs that were done on the Tony broadcast. I wanted different clips.
And was it just me or were Alice Ripley and Skinner a bit scared during their number? They were great, but they didn't really move. They just sang. They really should have won the Tony. They have talent and shared it with the viewing audience.
Oh, and now that Natasha has won her award will she stay in the show longer? Probably not.

From Sabrina Cellucci:
I am very happy that for the first time two women directors won. And all the way for Cabaret!

From PhyllisAd (
The show was excellent and it was good to see so many first-time Tony winners. While Lion King looks like one of the most visually breath-taking shows ever, and the tech awards were most appropriate, Ragtime is clearly the superior when it comes to plot, character and all the other qualities measured for a "best musical" award. It's too bad for another reason; Lion King would have run for another 10 yrs. without major awards, but Ragtime could be hurt for the relatively few awards it won. As far as I can see the biggest disappointments were Ragtime's failure to take the top Tonys.
Just a personal thing, but I would've love to see the Side Show twins get the Tony for best perf. It doesn't seem fair to give Natasha the top Tony for her first-ever stab at a musical; she hardly is worthy to step into the shoes of Merman or Martin. A supporting Tony would've been acceptable. By the way, am I the only one wondering why she was the only nominee who didn't sing on the show??? And I agree with the Playbill fan who wondered why it was necessary to give Audra McD yet another Tony. For heavens sake, she isn't the only belter on Bdwy.
I was happy for all the lovely Irishwomen who took home Tonys. The Irish stage is one of the finest in the world; would that they would tour American cities with their wonderful, heartfelt dramas.

From Joan Stolzar:
The Tony Awards were predictable, unfortunately. I just knew that Lion King would win in spite of the fact that Ragtime was one of the most moving, superb musicals I've ever seen. Having seen Cabaret and Ragtime, I feel that Brian Stokes Mitchell should have won for Ragtime, but I also think that Alan Cumming was tremendous. I'm thrilled that Audra McDonald won but that was a surprise. I never thought that she would win her third Tony. She deserved it, though.
I'm glad that Ragtime did at least win for Best Original Score, Best Book and Best Orchestration. They were all well deserved.

From Paul Coltoff:
was anyone bothered by the fact that julie taymor neglected to thank the crew of the 'lion king'? I know for a fact that without the crew there wouldn't be a show. yes, the actors have to put up with those costumes but what about the wardrobe and wig crew who have to maintain those costumes, dress the actors and put up with attitudes?
and on the other hand,kudos to alan cumming,who remembered to thank the crew,including his dresser, hair &make up people by name.

From Judy A. Malbuisson:
Let me get this straight: the Best Musical award is for the best over all production, right? Weighing everything out, right? And that would explain how Lion King with it's fabulous award winning scenery & lighting, and innovative costuming and choreography and nominated (but not winning) performance by Tsidii Le Loka takes the award from Ragtime, a show with less spectacle but award winning performances, score & lyrics, and book, right? O.K., I've got that. Then explain to me the Best Play category, please. How can Beauty Queen walk away with the best direction and best performances, but NOT the Best Play? Wasn't it directed the best and had the most riveting performances, and therefor be THE show to see? How could Art steal it? Is it because the script of Art was so great, but not the performances? Shouldn't the Wing come up with an award for Best Script, like the Best Book and Score & Lyrics categories then and give the playwright the deserved attention? Isn't there something wrong here?

From Cody Daigle:
While I had hopes that Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley would win something for "Side Show" and while I was surprised by the Best Musical Tony for "The Lion King", one fact remains... the Tony telecast is our yearly reminder of what makes the theatre such a special force in American culture. The excitement and magic of the production numbers and the looks on the faces of the winners (especially Audra McDonald, what a talented actress!) reminds me why I decided to start writing plays and why I hope to live a life in the theatre. The theatre is the best place to be, and as always the Tony Awards let us all know why that's the truth.

From Jim:
I still can't believe that The Lion King won Best Musical. Ragtime won Best Book & Best Score! I'm happy for Audra McDonald. I loved The Lion King, however I feel that Ragtime was more in the running for "Best Musical."
I have not seen Cabaret, however I feel there should have been a separate category for Best Actor In A Revival for Mr. Cumming.
I was embarrassed to see Brian Stokes Mitchell not win the award he deserves.

From Kaje90:
I thought the show was just OK this year. I was hoping the PBS portion would profile this years starring performers (i.e., Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Friedman, Marin Mazzie, Anthony LaPaglia, Allison Janney, Alan Cumming, Natasha Richardson, Alan Alda, etc.) and it did not. The CBS portion was so rushed at the end, that the whole show became diminished. Now I personally thought Rosie O'Donnell was very funny; some jokes were better than others, but her enthusiasm for Broadway is so contagious that the audience does share in that joy. I may be in the minority but the Tampax - Ragtime I thought was hilarious, as well as her Newt Gingrich -Gagtime joke. The opening number was enjoyable, especially the Chicago dancers (would someone please give them a regular television gig? They are that good!)
While I may have been disappointed in Ragtime not winning best musical, I was more disappointed in the fact that the audience barely gets a glimpse of the nominees, and in the case of Best musical actor didn't even get to see the nominees at all. My other gripe is at the end of the show why don't the credits list the names of the performers who appear on the show, like the men from Chicago, or the dancers from Cabaret, or the cast of 1776, Sound of Music, and so on? How else are those of us in middle America supposed to get educated about Broadway?
I thought the two women from Sideshow (Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley) came off particularly well. As for the opening number, Jennifer Holliday came off best, but why was the number only represented by Broadway divas doing melancholy numbers?

From Jim Menke, Buffalo, NY (
Brian Stokes Mitchell and Douglas Sills were robbed. Both FAR outshine Alan Cumming who won the award. Cumming's is so inferior to the MC originally created by Joel Gray, that there is NO comparison. He shouldn't have been nominated as a Leading Actor. It was too bad that the ending of the show had to be rushed. Cutting the Best Play excerpts could have helped in the running time as none of the excerpts really helped the plays. Unfortunately Rosie was not very good this year. Most of her "jokes" were not funny, some in questionable taste. LION KING is style over substance. RAGTIME in the best musical no matter what the voters said.

From Mary Ellen Kelly :
The huge, wrenching sorrow of the evening was seeing Brian Stokes Mitchell denied the Tony he should have won for his soaring, searing performance as Coalhouse Walker in "Ragtime." Mitchell's Coalhouse is the very heart and soul of "Ragtime," and he deserved the award as much as--or more than--any recipient in recent memory has deserved it (including Michael Crawford).
I predict that Mitchell's Coalhouse will go down as one of the definitive portrayals in Broadway history--right up there with Ethel Merman's Mama Rose.
I suppose Mitchell can take some solace from the fact that just as his Coalhouse lost to Cumming's emcee in this year of (dis)grace 1998, Merman's Rose lost to Mary Martin's Maria back in 1960.
It was kind of ironic, though, to see a clip of Martin's "Sound of Music" win zip by as one of the "past winners" clips for the "Actress in a Musical" award . . .
. . . could the Theatre Wing's clipmeister have been hoping for the chance to make a bit of subliminal ironic commentary thereby?

From SideShowDL:
Cabaret is a great show, and Natasha was good, but Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner deserved the award for best actress. Side Show should have won best score for it's rich interesting melodies. Lion King deserved to win for best director, but not for best musical. Best musical should have been either Ragtime or Side Show. Both are intelligent musicals, with wonderful and fascinating plots. It is unfortunate that Side Show closed so soon, which is really the reason it didn't win anything. What kind of world is it where any show about felines will play until Armageddon, but shows about understanding and fitting in don't last until Valentines Day?
just my 2 cents.

From Rachel Rubin Ladutke:
I had a few comments on the show. Rosie wasn't as funny as last year but her enthusiasm is still infectious and there were some really fun segments. I LOVED the opening segment with Patti Lupone, Jennifer Holliday and Betty Buckley - what a thrill to hear these wonderful talents again! Except for Buckley, I haven't heard these fabulous voices in far too long. (I don't get to go to many shows; I'm a theatre student and when I'm not studying, I'm directing and writing.)
I'm thrilled that Julie Taymor and Garry Hynes won the directing Tonys; I haven't seen either show yet (though I intend to) but I thought it disgraceful that no woman ever won a directing Tony before. This should be a good step towards rectifying that.
I think it's disgraceful, too, that CBS can't be bothered to make it a three-hour show. Locally PBS broadcasts an hour before the regular broadcast starts, in which they award some of the Tonys and profile the directors, choreographers, and designers. It's a class act that should have a wider audience. I often find people have little concept of what these different artists DO; and the point of the Tonys is more than just self congratulation, it's also to raise awareness in the non-New York vicinity, about what goes into a show. Maybe some people who go to theatre just do it 'cause it's there, like the mountain; but I hope and pray that there's more to it than that. And I suspect, looking at all of the interesting stuff going on around the country, that many people feel this way and that there's some truth to the statement. While I'm glad CBS broadcasts the two hours it does (and heaven forbid they go over-time, even though the Oscars is at least a half hour long each year), I do wish they'd commit fully.

From SusanUARTS:
Bravo Miss Rosie for once again, doing a wonderful job hosting the Tony's! I would first like to say, that I think that Ragtime is one of the most incredible theatrical experiences Broadway has ever seen, and I strongly believe I strongly believe it was overlooked. I did see The lion King and yes, it was brilliantly crafted and extremely creative However, the story was no where near as telling. Two awards that just proved Ragtime's brilliance were best score as well as best book of a musical. Bravo Audra!! An incredible performer in every aspect... Another huge disappointment in my opinion was the fact Brian Stokes Mitchell lost. Cumming was wonderful, but Mitchell was mind blowing! Ragtime is what musical theater is all about!!!!

I'm so confused and disillusioned.
The Tony community says to "The Lion King": You don't have the best book, you also don't have the best score, you also don't have the best performances. You do have a visually beautiful spectacle, the best lighting, the best set and the best costumes. You have the best director because she created this out of a Disney cartoon.
The Tony community say to "Ragtime": You have the best score. You have the best book. You have the best featured actress in addition to three leading performance nominations.
But the Best Musical is "The Lion King".
Q. If the source material, the book, the score, the performances don't constitute the most important components of the Best Musical prize, what does?

From HJ7SP:
All in all, I though the Tony's were OK. I loved Rosie and in general, I was pleased with the winners. However, I believe that there were two great injustices last night. I think Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were robbed of recognition for their very difficult role as siamese twins. Instead, it went to a "big name" with virtually no musical theater background (self admitted). The other great injustice was that I feel was that Alan Cumming won for best actor. Geez, what a joke!!! I like the man as an actor, I really do, but I don't believe his performance was Tony worthy when compared with the other great talents in the same category:Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Friedman, and my personal (& sentimental) favorite, Mr. Douglas Sills. These three gentlemen have voices and acting talent that surpass Mr. Cumming's any day of the week.

From Mark Cibulka:
I felt this was the best Tonys ever! I was thrilled that Lion King beat Ragtime because I think Ragtime is kind of boring. Natasha Richardson should not have won the best actress award it should have gone to Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley who gave a bring down the house performance right before the award what were the voters thinking she wouldn't even sing on T.V.

From Mark Coleman:
Ragtime got gypped...4 awards is nice but by far not enough for this outstanding musical.

From Rob Howard:
Ok here I am the lone person in the world who thinks that 1776 was an amazing show. In my opinion, and that is all it can be, 1776 was so much more of a better show. Having seen both shows on my last trip up to New York, I was more impressed with 1776. Granted the showmanship of Cabaret was intense I still believe that 1776 deserved something more than what they received, which we know is nothing. A show that can take a slightly unpatriotic person as myself and make him proud that his founding fathers went through hell (not to mention the heat) to put this country together definitely deserves something. I am sure I am just one 19 year old who doesn't understand the choice. Thank you for your time.

From Amy Taylor (
I was upset about 1776 being ignored all night. When they showed the clips on the nominated best directors they did not talk to nominee Scott Ellis or anyone from the cast. Everyone knows that what Julie Taymor did with The Lion Ling was amazing and she deserved the award, but it would have been nice for her fellow nominee to get same recognition she got as well as did her fellow nominees for Ragtime and Cabaret. All I saw of 1776 during the PBS portion was maybe, at the most, four one second flashes of a scene from the show.
Then as they went to the commercial break right before Sit, Down John, the announcer said that coming up next was The Lion King! The only time this fantastic show was mentioned all night was when the nominees were announce and when Rosie made that stupid joke.
Gregg Edelman deserved the award for best supporting actor for his very emotion stirring take on Edward Rutledge. This amazing show deserved the best revival award over the disturbing Cabaret. Everyone looks like death in that show. I agree with the many who said that the emcee is a supporting role and that Alan Cumming is way to over the top with the role. Natasha Richardson is a fine actress but not a fine singer which is why I don't understand why she was even up for Best Actress in a MUSICAL!!! She might be playing a role in a musical because she was cast in it, but not because she actually can sing and should be a lead in a MUSICAL. She should have stuck with plays(but yet she won? over Marin Mazzie?!) I am happy for The Lion King and Ragtime winning awards that they so richly deserved, even though I would have like to have seen Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Tsidii Le Loka go home with awards. Oh well, since you can't get tickets to go see Ragtime , Lion King, or Cabaret for, oh, about six months, go see 1776 if you want to see a fantastic show this summer, while you still can. You won't regret it!

From Upstage:
At last the Disney sellout is complete. I saw both of the main contenders. "Lion King" was a loud, overdone, predictable bore. Can't hum the costumes. "Ragtime" on the other hand was meaningful, melodic, human, and powerful.....
Oh well......Maybe next year's visit to B'Way will bring me "Baywatch", the musical....with Regis and Kathy Lee hosting the Tony's....or perhaps Hulk Hogan?....Phooey!

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