Since its inception in 1947, the Tony Awards has been full of performances and appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest and brightest. Surely on a night that brings together the best of Broadways writers, directors, actors and designers there are bound to be plenty of O-M-G, tear-jerking moments. Well, in honor of the 69th Tony Award Ceremony, it’s only right that here, at Broadway Black, I give you my seven most memorable Tony moments from previous years.
7. Rap It Up (2013)
They’d done it before in 2011, but there was one thing missing–Audra McDonald. When host Neil Patrick Harris started to say there wouldn’t be enough time for a closing song, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail came to the rescue. Like in 2011, the two wrote the rap during the telecast to the beat of “Empire State Of Mind.” It was glorious and perfect all in one. Also, who could forget Audra’s epic mic drop at the end?
6. Oh, Patti! (2008)
Remember that YouTube video that went around of Patti LuPone stopping in the middle of a performance of Gypsy to scold an audience member for recording? Didn’t think she could top that? Well she did at the 2008 Tony Awards when she won Best Actress in a Musical for Gypsy. Her first in 29 years, and she let us know that. Pulling out a two-page letter, Patti began to go through and thank every single person she could think of. Do you think the cue music slowed her down? Absolutely not, when the wrap-up music did play, LuPone yelled over the music “Shut up, it’s been 29 years!” Oh, Patti.
5. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s improvised rap acceptance speech (2008)
I can’t help it when the rap world and Broadway world collide. I can’t help but to be excited. Lin-Manuel Miranda gets it right every time. So when In The Heights won for Best Original Score–Miranda’s first Tony Award–of course he raps his acceptance speech. Not only does it rap it, it’s completely from the top of his head. That is some serious skill!
4. Pippin’s “Magic To Do” (1973)
Two words. Ben Vereen. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to go back in time to see the original production of Pippin. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the revival with Patina Miller three times because I thought it was so good. However, after seeing this chilling performance of “Magic To Do”, I’ve never wanted to see Mr. Vereen’s Leading Player more.
3. Billy Elliot Boys (2009)
The lead actors made us “aww” when the three boys made Tony history and gave the cutest speech ever. For the first time, David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish all were awarded Best Actor in A Musical. What makes it even sweeter? It was their Broadway debut. What a way to make an entrance, huh?
2. Audra Made History (2014)
That time Audra McDonald made history and became the first person in Tony history to win a Tony Award in all four acting categories? Also when she became the first to win six Tony Awards for acting categories alone? Yes, you heard that right. The first. Not the first woman of color or the first black woman, the first person ever– period. I remember watching the Tony’s that year, bursting into tears while she gave her acceptance speech. She made history and I got to witness it.
1. Jennifer Holiday Told Us (1982)
I’d be foolish if I didn’t mention this tear-jerking, heartfelt performance by powerhouse Jennifer Holiday. At the time she was just 21 years old with a voice wise beyond her years. The song “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” comes at the end of the first act of Dreamgirls, the character Effie singing it after getting kicked out of the group and being dumped by her producer boyfriend. While the song is meant for him, Holiday sings into the audience in a way that makes you feel every note and lyric. I dare you not to get chills.
Sound off below with some of your own! What moments did you find most memorable?