30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #10 - THE WHO'S TOMMY Vs. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special focus on the first of ten major battles for Best Musical with THE WHO'S TOMMY versus KISS OF The Spider WOMAN.
Epic match-ups of the old school against the new school rarely come to as much a figurative and literal head - or, in this case, head-to-head - as they did in 1993 when KISS OF The Spider WOMAN squared off against THE WHO'S TOMMY. With KISS OF The Spider WOMAN featuring legendary leading lady Chita Rivera in the title role, directed by all-time Tony Award champ Hal Prince and featuring a score by Broadway stalwarts John Kander and Fred Ebb, it was the quintessential classic musical entry, telling a uniquely compelling tale with a politically-applicable edge and exotic locale.
On the other hand, internationally adored rock band The Who had made a major mark on the recording industry and pop culture at large with their seminal 1969 concept album TOMMY - the first so-called "rock opera" of its era - and the subsequent 1975 film adaptation directed by Ken Russell, but were now seeing the work finally fully realized in an eye-grabbing Broadway production directed by Des McAnuff and featuring a cast packed to the rafters with rising stars and up-and-comers of note (Michael Cerveris, Alice Ripley, Norm Lewis and many more among them). How to even compare the two properties and how to assess them individually? Such was the tricky task given to Tony voters in 1993.
Although KISS OF The Spider WOMAN and THE WHO'S TOMMY would actually manage to share a rare tie in the Best Score category - with TOMMY composer/lyricist offering a hilarious anecdote about his own affection for SPIDER WOMAN having seen his own show so many times by then that he "hate[d] it" - at the end of the day, one had to be crowned the big winner. After all, there has been only one Best Musical tie in history - FIORELLO! and THE SOUND OF MUSIC in 1960 (with both besting GYPSY, believe it or not) - and the winner was KISS OF The Spider WOMAN.
KISS OF The Spider WOMAN also took home Tony Awards for Best Actress In A Musical (Chita Rivera), Best Actor In A Musical (Brent Carver), Best Featured Actor In A Musical (Anthony Crivello), Best Book (Terrence McNally) and Best Costume Design (Florence Klotz). In addition to the Best Score tie, THE WHO'S TOMMY won Tony Awards in the categories of Best Choreography (Wayne Cilento), Best Direction Of A Musical (Des McAnuff), Best Scenic Design (John Arnone) and Best Lighting Design (Chris Parry).
30 DAYS OF THE 2014 Tony Awards IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY... This fall, Fathom Events will present Tim Rice's timeless new musical "From Here to Eternity" to cinemas across the United States. Captured during the show's successful six-month West End run, U.S. audiences will be able to enjoy the UK production, as well as exclusive extras, on the big screen before it hits Broadway in 2015. More information is available here.
So, now, let's take a look at some of the most memorable Tony Awards moments pertaining to KISS OF The Spider WOMAN and THE WHO'S TOMMY.
First up, see the cast of KISS OF The Spider WOMAN perform on the Tony Awards.
Next, see Chita Rivera's emotional acceptance speech.
Now, take in the Tony Awards performance by THE WHO'S TOMMY.
Lastly, the cast of THE WHO'S TOMMY perform "Pinball Wizard".
So, if forced to choose the Best Musical between the classic rock of THE WHO'S TOMMY and the Golden Age razzle dazzle of KISS OF The Spider WOMAN, which would you choose? Furthermore, which show do you think holds up best more than 20 years later? With two shows this sensational highlighted by two scores this good, 1993 was certainly a year to remember.