“Hamilton: An American Musical” and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda won almost every award imaginable in 2016 in the run up to their Tony win for Best Musical, leaving their competition “Bright Star,” “School of Rock,” “Shuffle Along” and “Waitress” little chance of an upset. Because the “Hamilton” cast recording was released on September 25, 2015, five days before the Grammy eligibility cutoff, it competed at the 2015 Grammys, while its Tony rivals will contend for 2016, leaving the category wide open.
“Waitress,” an adaptation of a 2007 film of the same name composed by Sara Bareilles and starring Tony and Grammy winner Jessie Mueller, should be considered the favorite thanks in no small part to its crossover hit “She Used to Be Mine.” Bareilles wrote her first musical this year and is well overdue for her first gramophone after missing out on her first four tries: Song of the Year (“Love Song,” 2008), Best Female Pop Vocal (“King of Anything,” 2010) and Best Pop Solo Performance (“Brave”) and Album of the Year (“The Blessed Unrest”) in 2013. In 2004 the Grammys seemed to correct the Tonys’ mistake by awarding “Wicked” after it lost the Best Musical Tony to “Avenue Q”; while “Hamilton” deserved its Best Musical Tony win, “Waitress” and Bareilles are overdue for awards attention.
Three times when the Best Musical Tony winner did not win the Grammy, the musical that did go on to win the Grammy was associated to an artist or a band that the Grammys respected and had awarded in different categories previously: in 2000 “Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida,” which was snubbed by the Tonys for Best Musical, took home the Grammy; in 2010 “Memphis” took home the Tony but the Grammys preferred Green Day‘s “American Idiot”; and in 2014 the Tonys preferred “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” while the Grammys went with “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
Two of this year’s Best Musical nominees would fit this archetype. “School of Rock,” based on a 2003 movie of the same name, brought back to prominence musical theater legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, a past three-time Grammy winner and one of the inaugural winners of the Grammy Legend Award (1990). He teamed up with another past Grammy winner, Glen Slater (Best Visual Media Song for “I See the Light” from “Tangled,” 2011), to create “School of Rock.” And “Bright Star” was inspired by a past Grammy winning song, “Love Has Come for You” (2013), by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin, who would also go on to pen the musical. Martin has won an additional four Grammys in a diverse group of categories: Best Comedy Recording for “Let’s Get Small” (1977) and “A Wild and Crazy Guy” (1978), Best County Instrumental Performance for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (2001) and Best Bluegrass Album for “The Crow/New Songs for the Five-String Banjo” (2009).
“Hamilton” joined “Hairspray” this past year as the only other Tony winner to win first at the Grammys — “Hairspray” won the Grammy in 2002 and the Tony in 2003. This allowed the revival of “Gypsy” starring Bernadette Peters to pick up the Grammy in 2003. “Shuffle Along,” written by George C. Wolfe, may not appear to have the pedigree of the classic musical “Gypsy,” but appearing on the album is Audra McDonald, a six-time Tony winner and a past two-time Grammy winner — Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album (“Weill: Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahogany,” 2008) — joined by fellow Tony and Grammy winner Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots,” 2013) and Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Kiss Me, Kate,” 2000), so their pedigree could push “Shuffle Along” into the winner circle.
Since “Gypsy” only one other revival has won: “West Side Story,” a Tony nominee for Best Musical Revival, took home the Grammy in 2009. Another revival, “The Color Purple,” whose original cast recording was nominated for the Grammy in 2006, was revived this year and stars Cynthia Erivo in a star-making performance, so “The Color Purple” is the best chance of a revival winning Best Musical Theater Album this year.
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