30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #3 - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Vs. INTO THE WOODS
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 THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA versus INTO THE WOODS.
The Music Of The Night
1988. The match-up? The Lord versus The Master - aka Andrew Lloyd Webber up against Stephen Sondheim, both undoubtedly world renown and internationally adored theatrical royalty of the absolute highest order. Although the generally non-competitive composing contemporaries had previously seen their respective shows open in the same seasons and play simultaneously on Broadway before, there was an unmistakable high-stakes, blockbuster air pervading both musicals that the men ceremoniously premiered on Broadway during the 1987-1988 season - Andrew Lloyd Webber giving the world THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, purportedly (at the time) his grandest score to date, with the added hubbub-earning bonus of direction by Sondheim's own iconic partner and former constant collaborator, Hal Prince, further heightening the stakes to near-mythic proportions for each candidate for Best Musical (and for all the other awards of the evening, as it were); and, of course, Sondheim, again collaborating with his visionary SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE bookwriter and director, James Lapine, on the family-friendly and thought-provoking audience and critical hit INTO THE WOODS.
Yet, would the gothic horror and sweeping romance of PHANTOM one-up the plucky fairy tale-themed intellectualism of INTO THE WOODS? Such was the gauntlet set down for Tony voters in 1988.
The result? Mostly a split. Sure, PHANTOM took the top prize of the night, Best Musical - as well as Best Actor In A Musical for Michael Crawford's incomparable original performance (rightly so), and Best Featured Actress In A Musical for Judy Kaye - but INTO THE WOODS took Best Book (James Lapine), Best Score (Sondheim) and Best Actress In A Musical, the latter for the divine Joanna Gleason. Additionally, Hal Prince took the trophy for Best Direction Of A Musical and PHANTOM also scored in the technical categories, as well, making it almost doubly the favorite with all categories considered in toto. Therefore, while PHANTOM won a considerable number more awards - and, as we all know, is still running on Broadway to this day - the Tony love was spread around the field nonetheless. What a year!
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Plus, for a further exploration of the music of both Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim, join us for a super-special live BroadwayWorld celebration at Joe's Pub later this month with THE LORD & THE MASTER: BROADWAYWORLD.COM SINGS ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER & STEPHEN SONDHEIM. More information is available here.
So, let's take a look at the delicious original cast performances from the 1988 Tony Awards telecast and also revisit some of the revivals of these two momentous musicals by Broadway's very best.
First up, Angela Lansbury narrates INTO THE WOODS on the 1988 Tony Awards.
Next, the 2002 revival cast of INTO THE WOODS performs.
Now, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman lead THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on the 1988 telecast.
After that, see a special PHANTOM celebration on the 2013 Tony Awards.
As a special bonus, view this clip of Michael Crawford accepting the award for Best Actor In A Musical.
So, should we even be comparing the respective merits of these two tremendous musicals of the 1980s, or is there room for both THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and INTO THE WOODS in our hearts and minds? While Lloyd Webber may have written the most successful entertainment of all time with PHANTOM, WOODS went on to win Best Revival in 2002 and thrive in schools and community theatres around the world - and still does, to this day; just as PHANTOM still plays eight times a week on Broadway. In any event, 1988 was a battle royale at the Tony Awards - and a true battles of royals, too.