Bridgerton's unofficial musical adaptation album wins the Grammy Award for best musical theater album. The project originated on TikTok in early 2021 as composers Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow began writing songs inspired by the characters in the hit Netflix series. The Bridgerton project soon went viral and received views in the hundreds of millions, with the official concept album coming out on September 10, 2021, and peaking at No. 36 on the Billboard Top Album Sales chart.
Based on the original novel series by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton follows the titular siblings in a story set against the backdrop of Regency-era London, where they must navigate finding love, and managing friends and rivals, amidst the expectations of high society. The series became a huge hit for Netflix, drawing in over 82 million views in its first month of streaming, with Bridgerton season 2 seeing continued high viewing numbers. Season 1 also received 12 Emmy nominations, including one win in the category of period makeup and hairstyling. But now, another Bridgerton-related project has nabbed a coveted award.
As reported by Variety, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical's Grammy win is a historic one, as it is the first TikTok-based project to receive an award from the Recording Academy. It's also notable for being the first musical theater album to win a Grammy whose show has never been performed live on stage. The unofficial Bridgerton musical beat Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, the cast recording of Girl from the North Country, Les Misérables: The Staged Concert and Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots in a stacked list of nominations. In her acceptance speech, Barlow thanked the Bridgerton project's followers for supporting the pair's creation. Read an excerpt from her speech below:
“A year ago when I asked the internet, ‘What if ‘Bridgerton’ was a musical?’ I could not have imagined we would be holding a Grammy in our hands. We want to thank everyone on the internet who has watched us create this album from the ground up, we share this with you ... The immense success of this project was definitely in the fans’ hands. They made this project soar by supporting two young women with a crazy dream and watching their journey every step of the way."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, theaters were shut down across the world, forcing many musical theater fans to turn to social media (particularly TikTok) to share their passion for the medium. Disney's Ratatouille also saw an unofficial musical adaptation, and its benefit concert raised over $1 million for charity. Both Bridgerton and Ratatouille's unofficial adaptations show how media has changed and adapted to the unique state of the world, and that the passion for an industry upended by the COVID-19 virus is still able to reach people in other ways.
Like sporting events, live theater was hit particularly hard by the pandemic and The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical's Grammy win shows how badly it was impacted. Due to licensing issues, it's unlikely that the musical adaptation will ever be performed in an official capacity on stage, leaving the musical theater album a unique place in history as a hit show that never made it in front of a live audence. Despite that, the passion for Bridgerton and musical theater is on clear display, as the musical continues to gain more and more views everyday while Bridgerton season 2 captures hearts all over the globe.