Unless you grew up in New York City, the annual Tony Awards show was your gateway drug to theater bliss. Before Glee made showtunes safe again for prime time, a burgeoning musical lover had to make due with the three show albums in his parents’ collection (in my case, a reel to reel of Camelot, an 8-track of Godspell and a vinyl copy of the Paint Your Wagon motion picture soundtrack–I could have turned my parents’ into child services for that one alone) and wait it out until that one night a year when the world was shiny and bright.
With this year’s Tony Awards fast approaching (Sunday, June 12 on CBS), let’s take a look at video from some of my favorite Tony moments. They may not be the best of all time, but these are the ones that came to mind today:
Two Divas for the Price of One: Yes, we’ve all seen Jennifer Holiday tear it up and every Rose rip her throat out, but this perhaps less-beloved clip still sticks in my mind. It’s just two fabulous women standing center stage and singing their lungs out. You can quibble with the song or, hell, the fact that they are playing conjoined twins but Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley’s performance of Sideshow‘s “I Will Never Leave You” is a goosebump-inducing, belter’s paradise.
What He Said: It’s not a song but this clip is a performance none-the-less. Mark Rylance wins for Best Actor in a Play and proceeds to mystify and delight the audience by careening off the awards show rails and, without any explanation, reciting a poem by Louis Jenkins. Theater people are a special breed and this is an enchantingly bizarre example of their “who cares about PR people” attitude. More importantly, I can not fathom that this sweetly professorial man is the same man who is giving a titanic, Tony nominated performance this year in Jerusalem (which I will discuss in depth in next week’s To See or Not To See column.)
Joy to the World: This one makes me cry. It just does. Sue me. I can’t explain it. Perhaps it is because I know Michael Jeter is no longer with us, but I’m sure it always had this effect on me. There’s something so poignant about such unexpected exuberance coming from the least likely of sources. Bittersweet and fearless, this is why we dance and sing. His performance of “We’ll Take a Glass Together” from Grand Hotel captures the essence of music theater joy.
Your turn! Tell me some of your favorite moments and I’ll post them next week as we count down to the Tonys.