The reviews were mixed at best. In his New York Times review, Frank Rich wrote: "...the show has become a desperate barrage of arbitrary musical numbers, portentous staging devices, extravagant costumes..., confused plot twists and sociological bromides..." "Grind" fared poorly at the box office; "The production was a disaster; the show lost its entire $4.75 million investment, and Prince and three other members of the creative team were suspended by the Dramatists Guild for signing a "substandard contract."  1985 was a bad year for Broadway musicals, and only one hit (Big River) had emerged by the time Tony nominations were submitted. Since there was little decent competition, "Grind" received a Tony nomination for Best Musical. Ken Mandelbaum wrote of the season: "The original Big River came along at the end of a dismal season for new musicals, and Leader of the Pack, Quilters, and the fascinating but unworkable Grind posed virtually no competition.
Even critics who hated Grind were impressed by Leilani Jones' performance: Frank Rich wrote: "Miss Jones, in her Broadway debut, is a find - a gifted young performer lacking only a little flash." She received the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, and the Theatre World Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical that year.
Directed by Hal Prince, set design by Clarke Dunham, costume design by Florence Klotz, lighting design by Ken Billington, musical direction by Paul Gemignani, orchestrations by Bill Byers, additional orchestrations by Jim Tyler and Harold Wheeler, dance music arrangements by Tom Fay, dance music for New Man arranged by Gordon Harrell, with choreography by Lester Wilson, assistant choreography by Larry Vickers, and hair and make up by Richard Allen.
The cast included Ben Vereen (Leroy), Stubby Kaye (Gus), Lee Wallace (Harry), Joey Faye (Solly), Marion Ramsey (Vernelle), Hope Clarke (Ruby), Valarie Pettiford (Fleta), Candy Brown (Kitty), Wynonna Smith (Linette), Carol Woods (Maybelle), Sharon Murray (Romaine), Brian McKay (Louis, the Stage Manager), Oscar Stokes (Mike, the Doorman), Leonard John Crofoot, Timothy Nolen (Doyle), Donald Acree (Grover), Ruth Brisbane (Mrs. Faye) and Leilani Jones (Satin the stripper). Knockabouts, Bums, and Toughs portrayed by Leonard John Crofoot, Ray Roderick, Kelly Walters, Steve Owsley, Malcolm Perry.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1985||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Fay Kanin||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Larry Grossman and Ellen Fitzhugh||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Leilani Jones||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Harold Prince||Nominated|
|Best Scenic Design||Clarke Dunham||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Florence Klotz||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Timothy Nolen||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Leilani Jones||Won|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Bill Byers||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Ellen Fitzhugh||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Larry Grossman||Won|
|Outstanding Set Design||Clarke Dunham||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Ken Billington||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Leilani Jones||Won|
- New York Times, Jesse McKinley, May 17, 2002
- Ken Mandelbaum, "The Insider", 5/24/2004, broadway.com