The Best Tony Award Performances at Radio City Music Hall

Making their official debut in 1947 at a dinner held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, the Tony Awards have become an annual star-studded tradition celebrating the best of Broadway. This year is no exception. We’re honored to host the 72nd Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, at the Showplace of the Nation (for the 18th time!).

Broadway’s biggest night shines with memorable performances from the year’s biggest musicals. So, to get you excited for the Tony Awards coming on Sunday, June 10th, we’re taking a look back at 11 Tony performances that have made history on the Great Stage.

"All That Jazz"/"Hot Honey Rag" from Chicago | 1997

Chicago has been a hugely successful revival of Kander and Ebb’s original 1975 production—it currently holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. At the 51st Tony Awards, Bebe Neuwirth, who played the role of Velma Kelly, took to the Great Stage with a remarkable delivery of the show’s opening number. The highlight of the performance? When Ann Reinking joined for “Hot Honey Rag,” and the duo danced the 90-second synchronized duet that legendary Bob Fosse himself choreographed for the original production.

"Circle of Life" from The Lion King | 1998

Julie Taymor’s Broadway adaptation of Disney’s beloved animated movie, “The Lion King,” brings together awe-inspiring visual artistry and thrilling choreography. The performance at the 52nd Annual Tony Awards was one to remember with flocks of birds, antelopes, jungle cats, giraffes, a rhino and even an elephant prancing up the aisles of the Great Stage.

"Forget About the Boy" from Thoroughly Modern Millie | 2002

Sutton Foster became an overnight sensation when she was selected to star as Millie in Broadway’s rendition of the 1967 Academy Award-winning film, “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” At the 56th Tony Awards, Sutton gave a show-stopping, tap-dancing performance of “Forget About the Boy.” Not only did this musical sweep up six Tony Awards that night, including Best Musical, but just like any fairytale ending, Sutton took home the Tony for Best Lead Actress In a Musical.

"You Can’t Stop the Beat" from Hairspray | 2003

Winning eight awards including Best Musical, Book, Costume Design and Director, Hairspray dominated the 57th Tony Awards. The show-stopping, head-bopping performance of its finale number “You Can’t Stop The Beat” was no exception. A pre-Glee Matthew Morrison, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Harvey Fierstein and the rest of the cast took to the stage and amused audiences with Jerry Mitchell’s energetic choreography.

"Defying Gravity" from Wicked | 2004

Based on Gregory Maquire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, one of the biggest musical hits of the 2004 Broadway season was Stephen Shwartz’s adaptation of the prequel to the “Wizard of Oz.” The leading ladies, Idina Menzel, who played the role of Elphaba, and Kristin Chenoweth, who played the role of Glinda, performed the thundering, grand act finale on the Great Stage. Even though Idina was dealing with a cold, that didn’t stop her from hitting all the high notes as she flew above the stage.

"The Ballad of Sweeney Todd"/"The Worst Pies in London"/"My Friends" from Sweeney Todd | 2006

The trio of Manoel Felciano, Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone, and the rest of the cast performed a medley of musical numbers from John Doyle’s minimalist production. They used musical instruments to tell the chilling story of the barber who kills his customers and bakes them into pies. Between the moody ambiance and stage presence, this was a truly unforgettable performance.

"Mama Who Bore Me"/"The Bitch of Living"/"Totally F*cked" from Spring Awakening | 2007

Based on a German play from the 1800s, this rock musical would go on to win eight Tonys and launch the successful careers of Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff and John Gallagher Jr. From the wildness of Bill T. Jones’s choreography to the epic pans and zooms of the camera, this medley performance by a mainly teenage cast of newcomers added energy to the awards show.

Click here to buy tickets to see Lea Michele and Darren Criss: The LM/DC Tour at The Chicago Theatre on June 26, 2018!

"In the Heights"/"96,000" from In The Heights | 2008

The Latin and hip-hop rhythm of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music turned the Great Stage into a Washington Heights block party during the 62nd Tony Awards. The most impressive moment of the performance? The end of the number when all the individual songs intertwine to create a single wall of sound.

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy | 2008

Taking center stage in this epic performance sung with extraordinary power is Patti LuPone. From the moment she hit that first note, Patti who plays the role of the controlling and conniving Mama Rose, brought the Radio City crowd to their feet.

"Ring of Keys" from Fun Home | 2015

At just 12 years of age, Sydney Lucas took to the Great Stage for a time-stopping performance of the number “Ring Of Keys.” Playing a young woman on the brink of discovering her sexuality, Sydney played for the camera rather than the Radio City audience—making this an intimate and emotional performance.

The Radio City Rockettes, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Cynthia Erivo | 2017

At the 71st annual Tony Awards, the Radio City Rockettes took to the Great Stage for a stunning rendition of “New York, New York.” The world-class dancers were joined by the vocal prowess of Leslie Odom, Jr., the 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Hamilton, and Cynthia Erivo, 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for The Color Purple. Want to see the Rockettes at Radio City? Click here to buy tickets to see them perform in their annual Christmas Spectacular.

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