Best Musical Theatre Album: Grammy Nomination Rumination
The Grammy nominees were announced and, as usual, we theatre buffs are particularly interested in the nominees in the category for Best Musical Theatre Album. This last year has been rife with new cast recordings of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, so it is with some frustration that we must accept Grammy’s ruling that only three albums would be nominated in this category, especially with a number of truly wonderful (and deserving) albums that could have rounded out this category. In the end, the three nominees in this category are Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, and Hello, Dolly!.
Nominees in this category are often a funny lot, often a popularity contest outweighing artistic merit or high quality technical know-how. Of course, last year, Broadway Record’s album of The Color Purple garnered a very deserving artistic win, but this isn’t always the case.
Who deserves to win this year?
For my money, the best musical theatre album of the last year is Hello, Dolly! This is a superb recording with a divine cast led by the Divine Miss M. herself: Bette Midler. Produced by Masterworks Broadway, not only is this album given an expert recording, it manages to capture the show’s pulse and energy, Just listen to “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and you will feel an electric thrill surge through your body. Every lyric on the album is crisp and clean, and the orchestrations simply create a crackling wave of lightening on which the first-rate performers sail their talents.
What will win?
It is my expectation that the year’s most popular (and well-marketed) musical, Dear Evan Hansen is most likely to take home the prize for Best Musical Theatre Album. Released by Atlantic Records, it’s a fine preservation of the Broadway production. If I am slightly underwhelmed by the album’s sound quality, it is still a deserving nominee. It’s popularity will also be the thrust behind it’s Grammy win.
What else should have been nominated?
After Hello, Dolly!, my favorite album of the year is the sumptuously preserved Anastasia from Broadway Records. I’m an enormous fan of Broadway Records. I feel they always capture a show’s atmosphere and emotional gravitas while providing it the most expert technical treatment. Many would also argue that Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, recorded by Reprise Records, should also be on the list of nominees. In a category of five nominees, this would have been the fifth nominee. It’s an intriguing score that is captured splendidly on its cast album.
And what about Come From Away?
Come From Away is the third nominee and its cast album, delivered via The Musical Company, is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it is an expertly captured album of the show that works in small, beautiful moments. It just doesn’t have enough whistles and bells to take the win like Dear Evan Hansen will and Hello, Dolly! should. It’s a deserving nominee, but not typical of what tickles the fancy of Grammy voters. Still, it is just special enough that I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Come From Away’s uniqueness creates an upset.
A hearty congratulations to all three of the deserving nominees.