It’s June, and it seems like the warm weather is finally here to stay. What have I been doing with my summer so far? Well, I’ve been writing my novella (10,600+ words so far!) and I’ve been on YouTube. A lot. I’ve watched every Side by Side by Susan Blackwell video (which I suggest you do too) and I’ve watched twenty years of complete Tony broadcasts. This blog post might have eaten up the most time of all my blog posts, but it’s only because once I settled on my top 10 performances, I had to go back and watch them all again. As one does.
In no particular order, here are ten of my favourite Tony performances of all time.
“Hair” from Hair, 2009
Will Swenson. Gavin Creel. Caissie Levy. Sasha Allen. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION. Immediately following this performance, Hair won the Tony for Best Revival. Duh.
“Anything Goes” from Anything Goes, 2011
One of the most classic musicals of all time can still be resonant, especially when Sutton Foster is your leading lady. Although I love Patti LuPone as Reno Sweeney too, I love the sound of tap shoes, and this performance has way more dancing. And THAT NOTE at the end (SUTTON!).
“Willkommen” from Cabaret, 1998
I’m a little bit obsessed with Alan Cumming (I was up late last week watching his Broadway.com vlog from two years ago that I didn’t know existed), but it’s undeniable that his Emcee redefined Cabaret and nearly every Emcee after 1998 has been modelled after him. Cumming reprised his role in the 2014 Broadway revival (opposite Michelle Williams, Emma Stone, and Sienna Miller, in turn) and was equally as charming.
“Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George, 1984
This show (revivals included) has won exactly two Tonys: for scenic design and lighting design. WHAT. Yep, Mandy Patinkin only has one Tony (for Evita) and Sondheim didn’t win diddly. Well, he won the Pulitzer for Sunday. I love this show so much that it’s a major player in my book (coming soon!) and even though there aren’t any road trip sing-a-long numbers, “Sunday” has got to be one of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre.
“Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy, 2008
Here she is, boys! Here she is, world! Here’s PATTI! If I’m a little obsessed with Alan Cumming, I’m completely obsessed with Patti LuPone. I just finished reading her memoir (Patti LuPone: A Memoir) and she’s been through a lot, you guys. She bookends her story with the opening and closing nights of Gypsy, and she gives her all in this performance.
“Corner of the Sky”/”Magic to Do” from Pippin, 2013
Let’s just all take a minute and appreciate Patina Miller’s biceps. Ahhh.
“A Musical” from Something Rotten!, 2015
I looked at a few webpages ranking the 2015 Tony performances, and most of them had this at the bottom. You crazy. This was the first show to perform, and I couldn’t think of a better way to open the show. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? This song is super catchy, the show is hilarious, and it’s a much-needed original show in a world of existing source material. Bonus points if you can catch all the references to other shows!
“Being Alive” from Company, 2007
Company is one of my favourite shows. Sondheim put it this way: “Broadway theatre has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.” Raúl Esparza is incredible as Bobby and I’m still mad he didn’t win for this (I’m still mad he doesn’t have a Tony period).
“And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls, 1982
The greatest Tony performance ever.
Bonus: “It’s Bigger!”, 2013 Tony Opener
I didn’t consider this a performance per se because it’s not from one of the nominated shows. But this opener was written by our friend Lin-Manuel Miranda and it won him an Emmy. I’ve watched every Tony ceremony dating back to 1995 (thanks, YouTube) and this is by far the best opening number ever.