STAGESTRUCK by Peter Filichia: Grammy Grist

Special Features   STAGESTRUCK by Peter Filichia: Grammy Grist
So Tony- and Pulitzer-winner Rent lost the Grammy Award to Riverdance. It's not alone.

So Tony- and Pulitzer-winner Rent lost the Grammy Award to Riverdance. It's not alone.

Since 1958, when the Grammys began, the prize in Best Musical Cast Show Album has gone to Tony-winning musicals less than half the time. The Music Man, Redhead, Sound of Music, How to Succeed, Cabaret, Company, Little Night Music, Raisin, The Wiz, Annie, Ain't Misbehavin', Sweeney Todd, Evita, Cats, Les Miz, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Will Rogers Follies and Passion make it a total of 18 out of 38, for a .474 percentage. So Rent can't be called a shoo-in based on its Antoinette Perry Award.

Along the way, thee have been many surprises. The Grammy community sure supports black shows, for in addition to Raisin, The Wiz, and Misbehavin', winners have included Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Dreamgirls, and, in a bit of stretch for a category known as Best Cast Show Album, Lena Horne: The Woman and Her Music.

But there has been quite a bit of category crossover. Beverly Sills won 1976 Best Classical Vocal Soloist for her Music of Victor Herbert album. Porgy and Bess, through Andre Previn's 1960 interpretation, was deemed Best Jazz Performance Solo or Small Group. Better still, it won as Best Opera Recording in 1976 for that three-disc set on the London label, and trumped that ace the very next year, when Gershwin's masterpiece again won Best Opera Recording for that Houston Grand Opera RCA set. Other Opera winners with Broadway pedigrees are The Merry Widow in '78 and City Opera's Candide in '86. Bernstein's '91 Candide, meanwhile, won as Best Classical Recording, as well as for Best Engineering (so did Sweeney in the latter category 12 years earlier). Other minor awards (should I have started the column with them and built up to the biggies?) include Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal, that's been won both for "Somewhere" on Streisand's Broadway Album in '86, and Cleo Laine's "No One Is Alone" in '88.

Sure, it's Mozart's music that they were voting for as Best Classical Recording in 1974, but the packaging offered a word that had become very famous with Broadway audiences: Amadeus. No question about it: For Mozart to have scored the prize, he needed an assist from Peter Shaffer. Eight theatrical projects won in the Best Spoken Word category. They include three plays (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Lenny, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), four one-person shows (Give 'Em Hell Harry, The Belle of Amherst, The Ages of Man, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein), and finally, in the comedy-revue category, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Good Evening. Not included in this list are An Evening with Nichols and May and Whoopi Goldberg each of which instead won in another category, Best Comedy Album.

The first four Soundtracks winners had Broadway associations -- Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Can-Can and West Side Story -- but that was the end of it. Since then, all soundtrack winners have been from non theatrical sources. Dare we hope that Evita bucks the trend? Well, maybe next year.

Show tunes (doncha hate that term?) have been deemed Song of the Year three times: "What Kind of Fool Am I?" in '62, "Hello, Dolly" in '64 (though Funny Girl was that year's Best Score of an Original Cast Album) and "Send in the Clowns" in '75, two full years after its debut on Broadway.

This is not to be confused with Record of the Year, which has only twice acknowledged Broadway. Even those, though, originated from atypical choices: Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" in '59, and "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" by the Fifth Dimension in '69.

And if you aren't already on information overload, here's minuscule statistic. The Award was originally called Best Original Cast Album for Broadway or TV in '58, Best Broadway Show Album in '59, changed to Best Show Album (Original Cast) in '60, then Best Original Cast Show Album in '61. Two years later, it was Score from an Original Cast Show, and, by '64, Score from an Original Cast Show Album. That's the way it stayed until '75, when it metamorphosed to Cast Show Album.

Finally, in 1986, it became the current Best Musical Cast Show Album. Makes sense. There just aren't as many "Original Cast" albums anymore, what with recording delays that can last years. And there's been, of course, much more studio activity, which led to wins for DRG's West Side Story in '85, the symphonic Les Miz in '91, and Follies in Concert in '86 -- which, if you ask me, belongs in a category all by itself.

-- Peter Filichia is the New Jersey drama critic for the Star Ledger. You can e-mail him at

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