In a startling upset, Bill Whelan’s cast recording of the Irish dance revue Riverdance won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Recording Feb. 26, beating favorite Rent and three other prominent Broadway show albums.
Riverdance had come in last among all five in Playbill On-Line’s annual Grammy poll, garnering just four votes to Rent’s 127.
”My God!” exclaimed Whelan as he accepted the award at Madison Square Garden in a ceremony televised on CBS-TV. He thanked those closest to him, saying “You’re precious, you’re diamonds.
Riverdance, which played at Radio City Music Hall in New York -- not techically a Broadway theatre -- beat Rent, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, <Victor/Victoria and the Nathan Lane revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The award was announced moments after Colin Dunne and the cast of Riverdance had brought the audience to its feet after performing a number from the show. Dunne also alternated tap licks with Savion Glover of Noise/Funk. Glover and the cast of Noise/Funk performed "Industrialization" from their show.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences bestowed Grammys in 89 categories.
The loss denied Rent/i> -- winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize and Best Musical Tony Award -- a clean sweep of major awards.
For the record, here are the nominees for Best Musical Show Recording. Technically, the award goes to the album producer and to the lyricists and composers of more than 50 percent of a new score.
Winner: * Riverdance -- Bill Whelan, producer; Bill Whelan, composer & lyricist (Various Artists) Celtic Heartbeat/Atlantic Records
* Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk -- James P. Nichols, producer; Ann Duquesnay, Reg E. Gaines & George C. Wolfe, lyricists; Ann Duquesnay, Zane Mark & Daryl Waters, composers (Original Broadway Cast With Savion Glover) RCA Victor
* A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum -- Phil Ramone, producer; (Stephen Sondheim, composer & lyricist) (Original 1996 Broadway Cast) Angel Records
* Rent -- Arif Mardin & Steve Skinner, producers; Jonathan Larson, composer & lyricist (Original Broadway Cast) Dreamworks Records
* Victor/Victoria -- Thomas Z. Shepard, producer; (Leslie Bricusse, lyricist; Henry Mancini, composer) (Original Broadway Cast With Julie Andrews, Michael Nouri, Tony Roberts, Rachel York) Philips Classics
Among eligible shows not nominated: Big and the Donna Murphy King & I revival.
Also for the record, here are the nominees in the category "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance For Solos, Duos or Groups with Vocals," in which Bernadette Peters will compete with Liza Minnelli and Tony Bennett, among others. Here are the nominees in that category:
Winner: * "Here's To The Ladies" -- Tony Bennett (Columbia Records)
* "Dedicated to Nelson" -- Rosemary Clooney (Concord Jazz Records)
* "Stardust" -- Natalie Cole (Elektra Records)
* "Gently" -- Liza Minnelli (Angel Records)
* "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" -- Bernadette Peters (Angel Records)
To see how Playbill On-Line users voted on the Grammys, see Playbill Poll: You Pick the Grammys in Theatre News.
For a comprehensive history of theatre and the Grammys, see STAGESTRUCK by Peter Filichia: Grammy Grist in Theatre News.