The Tony awards are tomorrow night and there are sure to be some amazing performances from this season's shows. To prepare for this big event. here's a countdown list of the 10 best Tony performances of all time!
10. La Cage Aux Folles (2010)
The beginning of this performance would have probably seemed slow if it had been handled by anyone other than Douglas Hodge, who took the Tony home that night. He’s a performer that just oozes charisma, crooning his way along while interacting with the audience—always a recipe for a good time. Serenading Matthew Morrison, sitting in Will Smith’s lap...Hodge does it all with such confidence and nonchalance, it’s just a lot of fun to watch. And by the time the number finally picks up, with the full company telling you over and over again “the best of times is now,” you have to agree.
9. The Book of Mormon (2011)
I bet there were a lot of people who expected this musical, born of the same minds that gave us South Park, to be a complete flop. The Book of Mormon proved to be the exact opposite, with just as much heart as irreverence, more endearing than offensive, complete with subtle homages to classic Broadway showtunes to boot. “I Believe” bears a just recognizable resemblance to “I Have Confidence” from the Sound of Music—“A warlord who shoots people in the face. What’s so scary about that?” And Andrew Rannells just absolutely nails the role of Elder Price, all bubble and naiveté. Plus that tiny riff on “believe” at about the 5 minute mark is the stuff dreams are made of.
8. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014)
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a ridiculous musical in the best possible way. It’s over the top, farcical, and with the quickest, sharpest lyrics outside of Hamilton. “I’ve Decided to Marry You” is for sure the show’s best number, and showcases the comedic prowess of its three leads—four, in this performance, if you include the intro by the quick-changing Jefferson Mays—all of whom deftly weave through the wordplay so fast it’ll make you sweat just watching it. And lines like, “I am grateful indeed for your gracious bestowment/Yes, Wadsworth, I told you, I'll be just moment,” prove that lyricists Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak are this generation’s new Gilbert and Sullivan.
7. Anything Goes (2011)
I’ll probably get some heat for picking this revival and not the 1988 version with Patti Lupone, but Sutton Foster is everything. She flits about the stage like it’s nothing, making the choreography look effortless—like, I’m pretty sure she bombershayed out of the womb at birth. And really, that choreography. There’s nothing like a good tap number, really, and Anything Goes has one of the best. It’s intricate, complicated, and definitely exhausting, but you’d never know, because the company, Foster included, seem to be loving every second of it.
6. Spring Awakening (2007)
The Duncan Sheik musical was controversial in its day, and it probably still is 11 years later. But it was also the show that introduced the world to Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff, John Gallagher Jr., and Skylar Astin, all of whom are featured to perfection in this 2007 Tony performance. With a medley of three of the show’s best songs, the company tells an entire story of teenage angst and sexual frustration that I not only can, but have watched over and over again. And the fact that they included a song that needed to be censored, a risky move that absolutely paid off, only highlights how bold Spring Awakening was.
5. Fun Home (2015)
Sometimes the most magical moments on a stage are also the smallest. When Sydney Lucas stepped into the spotlight at the 2015 Tony Awards, she wasn’t accompanied by throngs of backup dancers or elaborate sets. She had her voice, and her incredibly ability to emote, the raw tools necessary to tell the story of this young girl discovering her sexuality. It’s simple and utterly captivating, and if “Ring of Keys” doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, it should at least bring you to your feet.
4. Company (2007)
Speaking of solo numbers, no Broadway-related list would be complete without some Sondheim. When it comes to general audiences, people either love or hate the composer/lyricist, which I can understand. His tunes aren’t for everyone, but Raúl Esparza’s voice definitely is. Just a man and a spotlight, the 2007 cast performance wasn’t the flashiest, with Esparza performing by himself, but with vocals like his, do you really need anything else? The fact that he went home that night Tony-less is a travesty I am still not over, even a decade later. That belt on the final note alone was worth awards.
3. Les Misérables (1987)
I may be biased, because it’s my favorite musical of all time, but, I mean, come on. It might be hard to watch the first minute without thinking of the countless Les Mis parodies that now exist 30 years later, but at its core, this show is an emotionally wrought journey of love, mercy, struggle, and revolution backed by a gorgeous score that transcends time. Really. It’s a show that doesn’t age, one that will always be relevant. And any performance of “One Day More,” unless it’s sung by a tone-deaf frog, is going to make me weep like a baby. Plus it really doesn’t get better than Colm Wilkinson’s Jean Valjean, or the absolute powerhouse that is Michael Maguire’s Enjolras.
2. Cabaret (1998)
Many actors have taken on the role of Emcee since Joel Grey first donned the bowtie in the 1972 movie. But none of them, and I mean none of them, come close to Alan Cumming. You can fight me on this, but you will lose. With just a wiggle of his finger, he pulls you in and makes you comfortable with being uncomfortable almost instantly. He’s incredibly creepy, alluring, mysterious, unpredictable, quirky—you get all of that from literally the first ten seconds of this performance. And once the cast joins in, with the same choreography that has been used in every single production of Cabaret probably ever—which is fine, because it it ain't broke, don't fix it—you become fully immersed in this bizarre, colorless world where the Emcee makes the rules. And don’t even get me started on that key change.
1. Ragtime (1998)
The opening number of Ragtime is a fully told story all on its own, a history lesson and a piece of living, breathing art all in one. The costuming, musicality, and choreography all add color and texture to differentiate the three opposing groups, clashing, but also creating a beautiful tapestry of America going through the growing pains of its teenage years. When the voices all finally come together for that grand finale—and yes, this four minute number has a grand finale, okay—it’s just stunning, from “It was the music/Of something beginning/An era exploding/A century spinning,” to that very last “RAGTIME!” It honestly never fails to give me goosebumps. And really, if ever a musical was screaming for a revival, I’d say it was this one, because nothing could be more relevant.