The Grammy Award nominations released today won’t do much for Broadway’s bottom line: Of the six nominees for Best Musical Theater Album, only one – Girl From The North Country, with music by Bob Dylan – is from a show currently on a Broadway stage.
Other nominees announced today are:
- Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, a London cast recording;
- Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater’s Some Lovers, a concept album featuring a Who’s Who of stage and screen stars performing new Bacharach songs;
- Les Misérables: The Staged Concert, from a 2019 staging at London’s Gielgud Theatre;
- Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook, another world premiere all-star concept recording of an original musical incorporating songs from such Schwartz productions as Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, The Baker’s Wife, Rags, Working, Children of Eden, and Enchanted;
- The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, the digital concept album from Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear’s TikTok musical inspired by the hit Netflix series.
The dearth of Grammy-nominated Broadway shows is due to at least a couple of reasons, one being the 18-month Covid shutdown that saw a number of musicals – the Michael Jackson musical MJ, The Music Man with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, the West Side Story revival for example – postpone (or cancel) openings and potential cast album recordings. The Grammy eligibility period of September 2020 through September 2021 saw most Broadway performers hunkered down far from Manhattan’s theater district.
The Girl From The North Country cast album – recorded just days before Broadway’s March 22 2020 shutdown and released last summer, hitting the Grammy eligibility sweet spot – is left to carry the Broadway load. The musical features reimagined songs from the Bob Dylan catalogue, including deep cuts like Duquesne Whistle and Sweetheart Like You alongside radio classics such as I Want you, Like a Rolling Stone and Lay Lady Lay.
So where are the other recordings of current Broadway musicals? Well, Jagged Little Pill and David Byrne’s American Utopia were nominated last year (Pill won, beating out Utopia and also the terrific Little Shop of Horrors Off Broadway revival), the Caroline, Or Change album features the London cast and was released in 2018; and both Six and Company, which were scheduled to open just after the shutdown, are so far represented on album only by their 2018 London casts.
The West Side Story revival that opened prior to the pandemic shutdown did not record a cast album before producer Scott Rudin decided to cancel the show’s post-Covid return; Mrs. Doubtfire had just started previews before the shutdown and has not released a cast album prior to its recent 2021 return; and MJ, the Michael Jackson musical, postponed its summer 2020 opening to January 2022 (previews begin Dec. 6; no cast recording yet).
Sing Street, featuring music and lyrics by Gary Clark and John Carney, also was set to begin Broadway previews that were postponed by the shutdown. The Broadway production hasn’t yet announced its return dates, but its official Broadway cast album was released in March 2020 – the cast had been in place since a successful 2019 Off Broadway production – prior to this year’s Grammy eligibility window.