Around the time for which the 2020 Tony Awards were originally scheduled, the New York Times put out a list of some of the highlights from past Tonys. I am not linking to that list because it was bad, and I wrote you a better one.
Fun Home, “Ring of Keys”
This performance from then-12-year-old Sydney Lucas is absolutely staggering. Watch the way a series of life-altering emotions can flicker across her face between lyrics. It’s a tour de force.
This performance also stands alone fantastically. The actors set up just enough context, and the song is so damn good that of course it works.
One more detail I love: Beth Malone’s focused empathy in the background. Normally, she isn’t onstage during this song. Getting to watch her react to this moment from her character’s younger self is a treat.
Next to Normal, “You Don’t Know”/“I Am the One”
Next to Normal is my favorite show, and this scene is excellent, and so is this performance. It was my first exposure to the show, and I’ll never forget it.
Most shows opt not to stage intimate, small-cast numbers in the huge Tonys venue. But in my opinion, these numbers play way better on television. You’re able to absorb all the information rather than hoping they cut to the most interesting cast members at the best times.
Mark Rylance’s first two acceptance speeches and no others
When Mark Rylance won his first Leading Actor in a Play Tony in 2008, he recited a weird, delightful poem by Louis Jenkins instead of giving an acceptance speech:
When he won again in 2011, he lived up to our hopes and gave us another Louis Jenkins poem:
But when he won again in 2014 (the man is a good actor), he gave a regular speech. Thinking this was a negotiation tactic, we gave him an Oscar in 2016. Infuriatingly, he gave another regular speech. What happened, Mark Rylance? How do we bring back the poems?
“Bigger,” the opening number of the 2013 Tonys
If there’s a Newsie you prefer, just let me know. You’ll get a Newsie in your gift bag when you go!
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Best Original Score acceptance speech
I believe in Chris Jackson.
I cried watching this in 2008. I’m still emotional about it.
Come From Away, “Welcome to the Rock”
You don’t think you want a musical about 9/11 where everyone stomp dances and speaks with thick Canadian accents, but you do.
Cast members in Come From Away tend to stay with the show for ages. A typical Broadway contract is six months to a year. Lead Jenn Colella stayed with the show for nearly five years, and lots of the other cast have hung around for years, too. I don’t think that’s a coincidence for a show that puts out so much pure positive energy.
(If you want to see an all-British cast take a whack at this same accent – or just see a higher-quality video – I highly recommend watching the performance of the same song at the Olivier Awards. If you want to see bona fide Canadians have a go, here’s a fantastic quarantine performance from the Toronto cast.)
The 2013 closing recap rap
That Audra McDonald mic drop!
Featured photo: Aaron Uhrmacher on Flickr.