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Best & Worst Best Original Score Tony Winners

Soaring29 Profile Photo
Soaring29
Broadway Star
joined:12/14/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 12/14/14

What do you think are the most deserving Best Original Score Tony  winners and the least deserving Best Original Score winners?

BCfitasafiddle
Stand-by
joined:1/25/20
Stand-by | Joined: 1/25/20

Most deserving, I'd say David Yazbek's The Band's Visit or ... JRB's Parade. It was no contest for either. The others didn't even need to be as generic as they were for it to win.

 

As for undeserving... That's hard. 

Sunset Boulevard won without any other nominees in the category. Does a default category win?

There are definitely ones I wish had won over others. I wish Dreamgirls had won in it's year, but I love Nine as well. Same for Sunday in the Park With George, I ADORE La Cage so I am not mad.. but Sunday is stunning.

 

 

BCfitasafiddle
Stand-by
joined:1/25/20
Stand-by | Joined: 1/25/20

Also, Richard Rodgers' No Strings beat How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying! 

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kdogg36
Broadway Legend
joined:9/13/07
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/13/07

I estimate that I’m probably only familiar with about half of the winners over the past 70-some years, but from among those, Sweeney Todd is the most deserving and Memphis the least. There’s plenty of competition for both!!

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jvoom
Understudy
joined:1/20/18
Understudy | Joined: 1/20/18

I think Ragtime is up there as one of the best.

I remember the year Next to Normal won, (2009, I think), I thought the other nominees - Billy Elliot, 9 to 5, and even Shrek were far superior.  

Alex Kulak2
Broadway Legend
joined:9/11/16
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/11/16

I've never listened to The Will Rogers Follies, but something doesn't feel right about it taking the Tony over Miss Saigon *and* Once On This Island.

I couldn't tell you the best winner. Parade, Ragtime, and Into The Woods immediately come to mind.

SouthernCakes
Broadway Legend
joined:7/29/19
Broadway Legend | Joined: 7/29/19
Sunday not winning is a surprise, but it’s a slow burn! Takes a few listens to really get there.

Memphis for me is the worst! Awful lyrics.
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Jordan Levinson
Leading Actor
joined:10/28/19
Leading Actor | Joined: 10/28/19

I'd say most of the winners in this category truly deserve the award, but some just won by default due to seemingly poor original musical seasons. Will Rogers and Memphis come to mind. And please try to explain why Matilda lost to Kinky Boots- I think both scores are good to say the least, but the former had both tuneful melodies AND clever lyricism, Minchin's forte.

This year would've been a pretty tight race between Six and Flying Over Sunset, the first real competition in this category in years (there's been an outright winner most times that no other show can contend with).

(heads down to the orchestra pit during the Exit Music)
TrChSpHa
Understudy
joined:7/15/09
Understudy | Joined: 7/15/09
Tim Minchin was robbed.

Most deserving, Jason Robert Brown for Bridges of Madison County and David Yazbek for The Band's Visit.
BroadwayAndSports
Understudy
joined:12/8/17
Understudy | Joined: 12/8/17

Most deserving at least in recent history probably In The Heights, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and The Band's Visit 

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greensgreens
Broadway Star
joined:10/14/09
Broadway Star | Joined: 10/14/09

I will never recover from the Miss Saigon/Will Rogers Follies vote. I still demand a recount.

ScottyDoesn'tKnow2
Broadway Legend
joined:1/22/14
Broadway Legend | Joined: 1/22/14

I don't think Kinky Boots is the "Worst" score to have won, but it totally robbed Matilda. Just the level of word play and skill in the lyric-writing put Matilda heads and shoulders above Kinky BootsMemphis is a boring score. I liked it enough when I saw it live, but nothing really stands out, and the finale song that I thought was good when I first saw it really is just repetitive with not many words, even for the genre in which it is emulating. Passing Strange in comparison was actually something fresh for Broadway and I wish that was rewarded.

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MayAudraBlessYou2
Leading Actor
joined:8/20/14
Leading Actor | Joined: 8/20/14

Most deserving is hard because it sort of comes down to personal preference. Sweeney Todd is my favorite score ever, so I of course think its most deserving.

There have been times when I was thankful that a Best Score winner went to a show that didn't win Best Musical b/c I thought the score was better. Ragtime, The Bridges of Madison County, and Next to Normal come to mind as all having much better scores than the show they lost Best Musical to.

I do wonder how we will look upon more recent winners as the years go on. In some examples below which lament certain losses, Sunday vs. La Cage for instance, we have had years to dissect those scores. We have been able to revisit them as albums, as pieces of music, separate from the show in its entirety. Did tony voters in 1985 truly appreciate how densely crafted Sunday in the Park with George was? Without the benefit of years to parse through its exquisite melodies and orchestrations? La Cage certainly seems "catchier" upon first listen. Both are excellent however. I think this is probably why Kinky Boots won though. The melodies are "bops" as the kids say, and there's a few that simply get stuck in your head. Neither Kinky Boots or Matilda were outstanding for me, but Minchin's work is a bit more dense and witty than Lauper's simpler but infectious tunes.

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Soaring29
Broadway Star
joined:12/14/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 12/14/14

La Cage was more deserving than Sunday IMO- Sunday has good  music but La Cage is much better. It's annoying how people just say it is "catchier" than Sunday and don't appreciated how strongly crafted La Cage is and how Sunday isn't nearly as good musically as it is made out to be.

Alex Kulak2
Broadway Legend
joined:9/11/16
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/11/16

I'm just gonna say it: other than "Answer Me", the score to The Band's Visit is David Yazbek's weakest work, and it won the Tony because it had pretty much no competition.

Alex Kulak2
Broadway Legend
joined:9/11/16
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/11/16

I'm just gonna say it: other than "Answer Me", the score to The Band's Visit is David Yazbek's weakest work, and it won the Tony because it had pretty much no competition.

Consistency
Understudy
joined:7/2/13
Understudy | Joined: 7/2/13
“ and how Sunday isn't nearly as good musically as it is made out to be.”

Nah. It’s even better. It’s a rare score that still reveals new depths even after years of listening.

With that said, I think “La Cage aux Folles” also has a brilliant score, so I’m not at all disappointed by its win.

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Charley Kringas Inc
Broadway Star
joined:8/12/11
Broadway Star | Joined: 8/12/11

In terms of undeserving, Aida over The Wild Party is pretty questionable, and imho Putnam Spelling Bee is better than Light in the Piazza. I also agree that Sunday is better than La Cage, but that La Cage is also a terrific score (on the other hand, Matilda is worlds above Kinky Boots).

In terms of "best" or "most deserving", that's kind of fish in a barrel for some years (e.g., Sweeney Todd), but Chorus Line is probably the only one where all nominees are true gems. 1982's lineup is also pretty killer (Nine, Merrily, and Dreamgirls in particular), and 2017 kind of spoiled us (I'd probably have given it to Natasha/Pierre, tho).

It's fun looking at all the nominees. Honestly, the number of stunning musicals we've had in the last couple of decades gives me a huge amount of hope for the future of musical theatre. A Letter For Queen Victoria being nominated is amazing.

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

WORST:  Big River or Edwin Drood

BEST:  Much harder.  South Pacific?  The King and I?  My Fair Lady?  Ragtime?  Nine?  Sweeney Todd?  Les Mis?  Follies?  I will go with The King and I

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AADA81
Broadway Star
joined:1/15/11
Broadway Star | Joined: 1/15/11

BEST: Oliver!, Fiddler On the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Annie, Sweeney Todd, Nine, Into the Woods, Titanic, Ragtime, Parade, The Light in the Piazza

WORST: Gigi, A Chorus Line, Evita, Woman of the Year, Cats, Drood, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, The Producers, The Drowsy Chaperone, Memphis, The Book of Mormon, Newsies, Kinky Boots

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Mike Costa
Stand-by
joined:10/27/07
Stand-by | Joined: 10/27/07

Keep in mind how voting works. Unless there is a sure fire blockbuster like My Fair Lady or The Producers voters are going to spread the wealth around in order to keep shows open. All of the voters have worked on Broadway and have friends producing or creating all of these shows. It is much easier to vote for Elton John or Cyndi Lauper regardless of the score they wrote then it is to vote for the unknown London composers whom no one has worked with. The American shows simply garner more votes because we have worked with their producers and creatives. A beloved composer like Cy Coleman (Will Rogers) and Comden and Green (Singin' InThe Rain, On The Town) is going to receive an award for his final musical because he wrote Sweet Charity whether the new show deserves it or not. These people made a lot of money for Broadway and we are a small community.  Same with Jerry Herman. If you are not going to give the show best musical you can at least give it best score to keep it afloat. Sunday in the Park had won a Pulitzer Prize, we all knew it had the superior score.

Nowadays a catastrophe like opening Sunday and La Cage in the same year would never happen. One would delay so they both could be blockbusters and receive best musical awards and best score along with the dollars that go with them. Look how Hamilton wiped out every other show that opened that year and Dear Evan Hansen, though ready to go, was prudent enough to wait another year to come in and sweep everything.

Remember, this award show is an advertising gimmick created by the owners of Broadway. You really cannot compare one piece of art to the next.