Best Musical: Tony vs Grammy - Part 3
Shocking Grammy Losers
I have already mentioned the glaring Grammy omission on the resume of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent. The same omission is true for two other Tony/Pulitzer shows-Fiorello! and, believe it or not, A Chorus Line. In 1960 Fiorello! had tied with The Sound Of Music for the Best Musical Tony award, but SOM won the Grammy outright (remember Mary Martin and that thing about Best Actress?), besting not only Fiorello! but also 1961's Best Musical Tony winner, Bye Bye Birdie (a show about the recording industry, no less!). Birdie's shocking lack of a Grammy apparently is a case of a show with a Best Musical Tony falling victim to the vagaries of eligibility timing, having the unfortunate luck of being Grammy-eligible in the same year as a show (or in this case, two shows!) that also won the Best Musical Tony, but in a different year. In 1975, A Chorus Line lost to The Wiz (another Tony winner); the same thing that happened to Birdie happened to A Chorus Line, despite its Pulitzer Prize and despite Donna McKechnie's Best Actress Tony. Shocking. Go figure.
Two shows which won the Tony for Best Musical in the 1980s and were written by well-regarded recording industry songwriters making their Broadway debuts were shockingly defeated at Grammy time by the recordings of West Side Story and Follies mentioned in Part Two. They are Big River by Roger Miller and The Mystery Of Edwin Drood by Rupert Holmes, co-starring jazz legend Cleo Laine. I have already noted above that in that same decade, The Phantom Of the Opera was unable to break the London cast album drought that Grammy has imposed since the beginning. And Man Of La Mancha and "The Impossible Dream" (a hit for Jack Jones and many others) lost to Mame in 1966.
But a stunning event similar to what took place in 1960 occurred in 1964, when not one but two Tony-winning Best Musicals were defeated for the Grammy Award in the same year. But these two shows were defeated by a show which was not itself a Tony winner, and they went on to become the longest-running Broadway musicals up to their time. For Fiddler On the Roof to lose the Grammy is shocking enough. But the other show, Hello, Dolly!, not only took home a slew of Tony prizes including Best Musical and Best Actress, but it won for composer/lyricist Jerry Herman the "Song of the Year" Grammy Award for its title song, even defeating the Lennon and McCartney "Hard Day's Night!" The show recording that defeated them both? Funny Girl, as discussed earlier. Not a shocking win for the Streisand/Jule Styne biography of stage and radio star Fanny Brice, but shocking losses for Dolly and Fiddler, nonetheless.
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Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as a performer, teacher and writer is centered at Paul W. Thompson Music, located in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building, where he teaches the great songs of Broadway to the next generation of musical theater performers. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Paul was raised in a family of professional musicians and teachers, steeped in classical, gospel, country, pop, sacred and show music. Dubbed a “thin, winsome lad” at the age of 13 by a critic for the Nashville Banner, he earned two degrees in musical theater (a B.F.A. with Honors from Baylor University and an M.M. from the University of Miami, Florida), plus an M.B.A. with Distinction from DePaul University. Paul’s memberships include Actors’ Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (proud voter for the Grammy Awards!), the National Association of Teachers of Singing and New York’s Drama League.|
Moving easily between the worlds of classical music, religious music, classic pop and musical theater, Paul has appeared onstage or in the orchestra pit in concerts, musicals, operettas and operas in 30 states and in Europe, in a career spanning more than 35 years. His Chicagoland stage credits include “Forever Plaid” at the Royal George Theater and twenty mainstage productions at Light Opera Works. Paul joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1995 (he was Tenor I Section Leader for four years and sings on two Grammy-winning recordings), and is one of Chicago’s foremost liturgical singers, marking 20 years as a member of the choir at St. James Cathedral (Episcopal) in 2011.He has composed and arranged a number of anthems, hymns and songs for worship and concert use, and collaborates on the creation of new works of musical theater. Paul can be found on Monday nights watching showtune videos at the world-famous Sidetrack nightclub, the inspiration for his weekly column, “The Showtune Mosh Pit.” His proudest achievement is that he has seen the original Broadway production of every Tony Award-winning Best Musical since “Cats.” No, really. Since “Cats!”
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