The musical debuted in August 1985 as part of the Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival series of outdoor offerings in Central Park. Rupert Holmes penned the music, lyrics, book and orchestrations, a rare undertaking for one person.
Following some revisions, Drood transferred to Broadway and officially opened Dec. 2, 1985. In addition to stars like Betty Buckley and George Rose, the production featured future Tony nominee Judy Kuhn in her Broadway debut and future Oscar nominee Rob Marshall as dance captain. The musical went on to win five Tonys, including Best Musical.