In honor of this coming Sunday's Tony Awards (also known as, "the Gay Super Bowl"), here are my picks for the best performances in the broadcast's history. Note that I am only including numbers from productions and no pieces created for the ceremony itself.
  1. Jennifer Holliday and Original Broadway Cast of Dreamgirls, And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
    No superlatives can prepare you and no Hudson can compare:
  2. Donna McKechnie and the Original Broadway Cast of Promises, Promises, Turkey Lurkey Time
    How McKanShe?!?
  3. Patti LuPone, Everything's Coming Up Roses from Gypsy
    No consensus will ever be reached as to who the best Rose is. LuPone's Tony performance best suggests the feelings that a good production of Gypsy should stir:
  4. Betty Buckley and the Original Broadway Cast of Cats, Memory
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all hate Cats. But watch this clip--or at least fast-forward to Buckley's entrance around 3:50--and you can get a sense of what it was like to experience the show before it was a joke:
  5. The Original Broadway Cast of The Life, My Body
    Never heard of this flop musical? Watch this. You'll never forget it:
  6. Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur, Bosom Buddies from Mame
  7. Glenn Close, As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Blvd.
    One of the most controversial pieces of casting in modern musical theatre by one of the most hated popular composers led to this gorgeously detailed and unapologetically theatrical performance:
  8. Dorothy Loudon and the Original Broadway Cast of Annie, Easy Street
    Loudon's brilliance here conveys why Annie was originally thought of as more than a kids' show:
  9. Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking Original Broadway Revival Cast of Chicago, All That Jazz and Hot Honey Rag
    Bebe's athleticism, Ann's grace, that choreography, that music--it's musical comedy perfection:
  10. Michael Jeter, Brent Barrett and the cast of Grand Hotel, We'll Take a Glass Together
    Without question, my favorite Jeter:
  11. Tonya Pinkins, Lot's Wife from Caroline or Change
    Though not a flattering representation of Pinkins's vocals, the rawness, intensity, and honesty of this performance immediately struck me as indelible and I booked a plane ticket to fly into New York and see the show:
  12. The Original Broadway Cast of Rent, Medley
    I remember watching this ceremony as a kid and knowing that it was capturing history:
  13. Liza Minnelli, City Lights from The Act
  14. The Original Broadway Cast of the Will Rogers' Follies, Our Favorite Son
    Garish, glorious, perfectly performed and expertly choreographed. It's a long performance, so if you doubt your patience, skip to 3:57 for a song called Oir Favorite Son:
  15. Linda Lavin and Jonathan Silverman in a scene from Broadway Bound
    The Tony struggle to represente nominated plays and not just musicals on the broadcast are notorious in the theatre community and have inspired some awful ideas. This scene, however, gets it pretty damn right: