The 68th annual Tony Awards were held in New York last evening, hosted once again by show favorite Hugh Jackman. The ceremony that celebrates theater’s best of the best was simply packed with phenomenal performances (freshly minted Tony Award winner Neil Patrick Harris in drag? Please and thank you) that brought the house down. Audra McDonald set a Tony Award record by snagging her sixth statuette for her performance in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Harris took home the grand prize for his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bryan Cranston proved to us that there is life after Breaking Bad by winning taking home the award for his portrayal of LBJ in best play winner All The Way.
The Tony Awards give everyone watching at home a brief snippet of the musical by selecting one song that highlights what the show has to offer. One chance to grab everyone’s attention and make them want to see the show in its entirety. Here are the top 10 most amazing performances in the history of the Tony Awards.
- My New Philosophy – Kristin Chenoweth donned a curly wig and pink dress to play the role of Sally in 1999’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Her Tony Award winning performance of My New Philosophy was the first chance many got to see her in action. 15 years later and we are all still madly in love with the pint sized powerhouse.
- Into The Woods/Children Will Listen – Phylicia Rashad amused and delighted everyone as the witch in Sondheim’s sleepy take on twisted fairy tales. Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood all shared the stage to sing the title song. The show may not have lasted long on Broadway but it wasn’t for lack of musical talent.
- Rose’s Turn – In a role that everyone usually connects with Patti Lupone, Bernadette Peters takes on the role of Mama Rose in the revival of Gypsy. Her performance starts out calm and defiant and turns into sexy and then crazy. All in the span of four minutes. Proving that once again Peters is the reigning Queen of the great white way.
- Seasons of Love – No list would be complete without the haunting ballad from Rent. A take on Puccini’s La Boheme, Rent told the story of struggling artists and musicians living in New York’s Lower East Side in the early days of AIDS. The performance of Seasons of Love was heart wrenching and beautiful.
- New Argentina – A bed on stage? Actors with torches? Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin? There was no way this could be bad. 1980’s Evita was an unusual story but it translated beautifully on Broadway.
- Anything Goes – Sutton Foster showing everyone that she has what it takes in the revival of Anything Goes. There was more dancing than singing but performance certainly doesn’t suffer for it. Foster is clearly exhausted by the end but the look of joy on her face cannot be masked.
- I Hope I Get It – This performance, from 1976’s A Chorus Line, is fabulous as it shows the actors being put through a particularly rigorous Broadway audition. A bit meta for a Broadway awards show, but the dancing and singing were top notch.
- Defying Gravity – When Wicked first appeared on the scene people were curious. A precursor to Wizard of Oz? The show tells the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith give the performances of their lives. When Menzel hits that final note you know you just witnessed something amazing.
- And I’m Telling You – Jennifer Holliday amazed audiences at the 1982 Tony Awards with her soulful performance as Effie in Dream Girls, the same role that won Jennifer Hudson the Oscar. The audience begins their applause way before the song has ended. Holliday is exuberant.
- Jellicle Cats/Memory – Very little needs to be said about this number from the 1983 Tony Awards. The dancing cats slinking around on stage leading to Betty Buckley’s show stopping performance. She owned the night.
The top 10 most amazing Tony Award performances are ones that have stood the test of time. With new shows popping up every year it’s likely that the list will keep growing, adding many fabulous performances to entertain us all.
Mary Kay Love