30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #6 - CITY OF ANGELS Vs. GRAND HOTEL
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 one of the biggest battles for Best Musical with CITY OF ANGELS versus GRAND HOTEL.
You're Nothing Without Me
Featuring a musical about movies - and the men and women who make them - with CITY OF ANGELS, as well as a musical based on a famous film, GRAND HOTEL, the 1989-1990 Tony Awards season is also famous for an early example of a screen-to-stage iteration the likes of which we see all too often on the Great White Way these days byway of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Yet, undoubtedly, the most memorable aspect of the season was undoubtedly the titanic match-up between the two sensational new American musicals battling it out for top Tony honors. Lavishly produced, lovingly directed and brilliantly cast, both musicals made a great case for why they were deserving of the Best Musical mantle, yet only one could win the night.
GRAND HOTEL started out more than 30 years before as a musical by Street stalwarts Robert Wright and George Forrest, with a book by Luther Davis, that somehow never made it to town. It took being vastly reworked and rewritten under the knowing, guiding hand of Tony Awards champ and master director/choreographer Tommy Tune, outfitted with a considerable amount of addition material by Tony Award-winning NINE songwriter Maury Yeston, before the musical was deemed ready to come to town. And, what a grand entrance it made! Showcasing an all-star cast and a dazzling production featuring multiple theatrical coups, the original Broadway iteration of GRAND HOTEL was a visual and aural feast. To this very day, Broadway babies perk up when discussing the showstopping "We'll Take A Glass Together" as originally enacted by Michael Jeter, as well as the lavish final dance. Elegant and refined, GRAND HOTEL was an adult musical with a glamorous European flair all its own.
On the other side of the season, CITY OF ANGELS spotlighted the ups and downs of the movie industry and presented an ingeniously staged two-sided story largely concerned with a novelist and screenwriter adapting his novel into a film - half in color, half in black and white. While the conceit could have worn out its welcome sooner or later with more mundane trappings, director Michael Blakemore and the creative team mined the brilliant concept for all of its copious theatrical possibilities - and more. A sterling, sparkling script by Larry Gelbart and a simply Perfect Score by Cy Coleman and David Zippel added immeasurable to the entertainment value amply evident in the show, as did the dismayingly perfect casting of each and every major role. A unique musical in the canon, CITY OF ANGELS is one of the most finely crafted and just plain enjoyable musicals of the last several decades.
But, one had to win, and the big winner of the night was CITY OF ANGELS, which took home Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, Best Actor In A Musical (James Naughton), Best Featured Actress In A Musical (Randy Graff) and Best Scenic Design (Robin Wagner). GRAND HOTEL made a fine showing, as well, with Best Featured Actor In A Musical (Michael Jeter), Best Direction and Best Choreography (Tommy Tune), Best Costume Design (Santo Loquasto) and Best Lighting Design (Jules Fisher).
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 attention-worthy moment from GRAND HOTEL and CITY OF ANGELS.
First up, the cast of CITY OF ANGELS perform on the 1990 Tony Awards.
Next, see Randy Graff enact her incomparable CITY OF ANGELS showstopper.
Now, see the cast of GRAND HOTEL perform on the Tony Awards and witness Michael Jeter's moving acceptance speech.
Also, Jane Krakowski looks back at her GRAND HOTEL experience.
How lucky were musical theatre fans in 1990?! With two Best Musical candidates this fresh and winning, it's no surprise many still debate the final decision to this day. But, why even choose? Clearly, both CITY OF ANGELS and GRAND HOTEL afford us with many reasons to revisit each time and time again and go a long way to prove that sometimes more is merrier, indeed - much, much more.