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The 8 Best Musical Numbers from the 2019 Tony Awards

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Relive the best musical moments from Sunday’s ceremony

On Sunday, June 9, 2019, we all enjoyed the 73rd Annual Tony Awards, which aired live on CBS. The evening was full of exciting wins, disappointing losses, funny jokes and touching tributes. And then there was, of course, the evening’s performances, which gave us a glimpse at some of Broadway’s brightest performers doing what they do best. Here are some of the evening’s highlights, the best of the best at the Tonys.

Tony winner Andre De Shields performs with the cast of ‘Hadestown’ at the 2019 Tony Awards (Photo: The Tony Awards)

Tony winner Andre De Shields performs with the cast of ‘Hadestown’ at the 2019 Tony Awards (Photo: The Tony Awards)

The Opening Number “Why Broadway Is Better Than TV”

The Tony Awards certainly got off to a rollicking start, with host James Corden leading an explosive opening number that celebrated live theater. “Why Broadway Is Better Than TV” started out small, and built into a showstopping celebration of song and dance, proclaiming the value and unique experience of attending a live theater event. Even if the number was occasionally corny, it served its purpose as an upbeat way to ignite theater’s night of nights. Most importantly, it set Corden up to be our warm and whimsical host for the evening, his charm enfolding for the audience and winning them over immediately.

Medley from Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations

The ‘60s and ‘70s Motown band The Temptations are legends in their own right, so telling their story with the creative hand of director Des McAnuff – and the electrically charged, Tony-winning choreography of Sergio Trujillo – brings an unforgettable heightened theatricality. This translated beautifully on the Tony telecast, with Tony nominees Derrick Baskin, Jeremy Pope and Ephraim Sykes performing a dynamite medley of “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Just My Imagination” and “I Can’t Get Next To You.”

“Wait For Me” from Hadestown

It’s hardly a surprise that the Best Musical winner of the night, Hadestown, gave a show-stopping performance of “Wait For Me,” the show’s soaring anthem. Led by the show’s star Reeve Carney (who plays Orpheus), the imaginative and inventive staging, particularly the carefully timed use of swinging lamps, certainly showed audiences that Hadestown is something out of the ordinary.  

“Day-O” and “The Whole Being Dead Thing” from Beetlejuice

Many viewers came out of the evening elated by the raucous undead shenanigans of Beetlejuice, with the cast performing the song most closely associated with the piece, “Day-O,” as well as a comedic whirlwind led by Alex Brightman singing “The Whole Being Dead Thing.” This may well translate into a ticket-selling boost for the macabre musical, as social media was abuzz with enthusiasm for the segment.

“Tonight Belongs to You” and “It’s Time to Dance” from The Prom

Musical comedy was given one of its most hilarious and joyous moments at the Tony Awards when the cast of The Prom performed “Tonight Belongs to You” and “It’s Time to Dance.” Equal parts humor and inspiration, it certainly galvanized the audience, which noticeably and audibly embraced the show, cheering the performance to the rafters of Radio City Music Hall. Props to Brooks Ashmanskas who, once again, demonstrated that he is a character actor of pure genius.

“Rockin’ Jerusalem” from Choir Boy

Choir Boy may no longer be with us on Broadway, but the performance of the song “Rockin’ Jerusalem” sure made one wish that it still was. A haunting and eclectically styled number that impressed with its vocal precision and energetic movement, it was something out of the ordinary for the Tony Awards. It was that extra touch of something special, a delightful bijou among so many musical gems.

Cynthia Erivo singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from The Lion King

With heartfelt poignancy and a voice that reaches the to heavens and back, Cynthia Erivo reminded us of why she deserved that Tony a few seasons back for The Color Purple. For the 2019 Tony Awards, Erivo provided pyrotechnic vocals charged by soaring emotion, singing the “In Memoriam” tribute. Her rendition of Elton John’s and Time Rice’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was the emotional apex of the evening.

James Corden spoofs Be More Chill’s “Michael in the Bathroom”

We may not have had the opportunity to see a scene from fan-favorite musical Be More Chill, but host James Corden certainly didn’t let the show go unrepresented at the Tony Awards. The Tony nominee for Best Score, Joe Iconis, saw his song “Michael in the Bathroom” redubbed “James in the Bathroom.” Corden, ensconced in a Radio City Music Hall toilet stall, anxious about his hosting duties, sang the piece. Last year’s hosts, Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, popped out of adjacent stalls. They were then joined by Neil Patrick Harris, who prompted Corden along, giving him the encouragement he needed to get through the night.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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