Sarah Jane Arnegger, Playbill EDU
Kristin Chenoweth singing "Glitter & Be Gay" with the New York Philharmonic
One of the best comedic performances of this vocally daunting aria! Plus the jewels are fabulous!
Susan Boyle 1st "Britain's Got Talent" 2009
I know this is sappy but I still love everything about this audition.
Betty Buckley "Stars and the Moon," Live at the Donmar
I adore Betty's rendition, fast, moving and a great interpretation.
Jared Clough, Editorial Assistant
Lillias White-"Don't Rain On My Parade"
A fun rendition of a classic song. I'm a huge Lillias fan and, in my opinion, this is one of her best performances. I can't watch this video without throwing my hand up!
Betsy Wolfe-"I'll Be Here" from Ordinary Days
This devastatingly beautiful ballad by Adam Gwon gets to me every time, and Betsy's performance is especially touching. There's also a slight change to the lyrics that I absolutely LOVE. At 3:15 she sings, "I discovered his Fruit Loops still there on the shelf, and I cried and I couldn't get 'hold of myself," instead of, "I saw this storm cloud of papers fall down from the sky, and I thought of that day and I started to cry," which is on the cast recording. This reference back to the beginning of the song never fails to put me through it.
Karen Olivo and the cast of the 2009 revival of West Side Story
I don't think there's anything that Karen Olivo can't do. I've watched this so many times I may or may not know all of the choreography…
Andrew Gans, Senior Editor (Favorite Tony Awards performances)
"A New Argentina" from Evita
I was 11 when Evita won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and it was the production and performance — Patti LuPone in the title role — that charted the course of my life and career. I must have re-watched this thrilling number — like none I had ever seen on stage — 1,000 times until my mom accidentally erased the video tape. It wasn't until years later when I finally obtained another copy that I realized the cast was lip syncing to a pre-recorded track. Nevertheless, it's still utterly thrilling!
"Unexpected Song" from Song and Dance
I was probably at the height of my Bernadette Peters fandom when the multitalented singing actress was nominated for her tour de force in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance, a performance that remains one of my top theatre-going experiences. I remember literally sitting on the edge of my seat as the winner of the Best Leading Actress in a Musical category was announced (Peters won her first Tony that night), and I probably watched her performance of "Unexpected Song," which builds to a thrilling finale, at least once a day for several months after it aired.
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls
Has there ever been a more gut-wrenching performance on the Tony Awards than Jennifer Holliday's delivery of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the Henry Krieger-Tom Eyen musical Dreamgirls? What made this performance even more spectacular was the inclusion of the dramatic fight scene that precedes Holliday's stentorian solo as well as the brief moment with the Dreams that follows. Musical theatre and the Tonys at their finest.
"Memory" from Cats
Okay, it was fun to watch the glorious dancing of the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats perform the musical's opening number, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," but it was when Betty Buckley opened her mouth and began singing "Memory" that I became riveted to the screen. Here was an actress I had known solely as the mom on TV's "Eight Is Enough," and from her was pouring out this uniquely beautiful voice that touched both the heart and soul, and when she delivered the song's powerful finale, I knew I would be a fan for life.
David Gewirtzman, Special Projects
Ethel Merman and Mary Martin "The Medley"
In 1953, Ethel Merman and Mary Martin joined forces to perform a medley as part of "The Ford 50th Anniversary Show." Seeing two of Broadway's greatest stars performing together at the peak of their career? Absolutely thrilling.
Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth
Judi Dench performing Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene. Her wailing starting at 3:12 is terrifying and heartbreaking.
Carol Channing on "Sesame Street
Carol Channing singing "Hello, Sammy" (to the tune of "Hello, Dolly," of course) on "Sesame Street." Surely one of the strangest songs ever filmed for children's television, but I can't stop watching.
Elaine Strtich singing "Someday My Prince Will Come"
Elaine Stritch singing "Some Day My Prince Will Come" with Ernest Borgnine as her prince. Watching Borgnine try to squeeze a shoe onto Stritch's foot never fails to make me crack up.
Michael Gioia, Staff Writer
Katie Thompson-"Leave Luanne" from 35mm
Well, obviously, I have to begin with one of my favorite concert performers, the gorgeous Katie Thompson, whom I first discovered through her original song "It Doesn't Hurt." I could actually just pick all of her YouTube performances, but instead I'll lead you to her feature in my Comtemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know column and spotlight this epic, eight-minute song by Ryan Scott Oliver, "Leave Luanne." From his musical 35mm, "Leave Luanne" was originally performed by Jay Armstrong Johnson, so it was thrilling to hear this in a woman's voice, and Katie just blows this song out of the water. Her acting choices are consistently spot on, and her vocal quality is just stunning and unreal. She is unbelievably always topping herself. Plus, this song by RSO is so intricately written and twisted that it's a must-watch.
Emma Hunton-"Anyway" by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk
Emma Hunton is also one of the most solid concert performers out there. Where do I begin? An older performance of Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" is so simple and gorgeous, and this song will obviously have you going through it (and get you through it). Speaking of Bareilles, I also love her "King of Anything/King of Wishful Thinking" mashup with Matt Doyle. It's such a kick-ass, "I don't need you in my life" song (so, obviously, I was rocking out to this song for a bit). But, for the sake of new musical theatre, I'm going to go with Emma's performance of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk's "Anyway." Her performance in this song is spot on. The build at 4:20, when she sings, "I feel like I'm underwater… Like the whole world is underwater, like I'm screaming out underwater. I feel like I'm underwater these days. Anyways…" is just incredible. Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk are experts at crafting songs from the heartbroken and beat-up soul of a twentysomething.
Natalie Weiss-"Falling" by Maglione and Ruiz
Natalie Weiss has one of the most beautiful voices in the theatre industry. Her choices are always smart and calculated, and she is such a present and giving performer. The possibilities are endless for a favorite YouTube performance by Natalie, but I'm going to pick one of her most recent performances, "Falling" by David Maglione and Tomas Ruiz. This performance is particularly special because Maglione and Ruiz are hometown friends — and it's thrilling to see how quickly they've burst onto the theatrical circuit — and this was performed at Putting the Pieces Together, a concert that I was lucky enough to also be a part of. Watching Natalie perform this live was heartbreaking — "Falling" is definitely a new go-to breakup anthem. "The night you said we were through/How could I know what to do? Haven't talked for days/I wouldn't know what to say… And, now we're falling/Falling apart/We said goodbye/You watched me cry/Falling/Falling apart/And now I have to move on… You were the one who kissed me goodnight/You were the one who held me tight/You were the one who up and walked away…" Come on! (But, if you're looking for more heartbreakers from Natalie, check out Joey Contreras' "Love Me, Love Me Not," Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond's "Out of My Head" and Alexander Sage Oyen's "Funny.")
Lindsay Mendez-"The Wizard and I" at Godspell Sings Schwartz
Lindsay Mendez's "The Wizard and I" is simply the best version of this song that I've ever heard. This performance is from the Godspell Sings Schwartz concert before she was cast as the musical's tenth-anniversary Elphaba, and everyone was waiting with bated breath for the announcement that she would star on Broadway. Lindsay is such a smart actress, and her jazz inflections are gorgeous. Her final notes in this song are unbelievable (she takes it higher than written, so naturally I've lost my mind). Seeing this on Broadway was breathtaking!
Bonnie Milligan-"Idina Medley"
Speaking of Wicked, I must include the Idina Menzel Medley that I dreamed up for a concert I recently produced, Bitching and Belting: An Evening With Michael Gioia and Friends. Here, Bonnie Milligan (who has recently made waves in the cabaret scene, received critical praise in Off-Broadway's Jasper in Deadland and will hit the road in Kinky Boots) performs "Life of the Party" from The Wild Party, "Defying Gravity" from Wicked and "Let it Go" from "Frozen." This medley is the brainchild of me, director Yvette Kojic and musical director genius Charlie Rosen, who flawlessly put it all together. Bitching and Belting was one of the bitchiest and belty-est nights of my life (check out this trio of ladies covering Destiny Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills!), and this medley came at the end of the evening. There is literally no note too high for "Belting Bonnie," and she nails every second of this (including the lyric flub, the step stool for "Defying Gravity" and the sip of wine!).
Adam Hetrick, Editor in Chief
Judi Dench, "Send in the Clowns."
Until I saw this performance in 1998, I didn't fully understand what this song was about and what it could be when the right actress delivered it.
Ruthie Henshall, "I Dreamed a Dream."
Hands down, the most exciting and moving performance of the song I've ever seen.
Tori Scott: "Stay With Me."
I get covered in goose bumps every time I hear nightlife performer Tori Scott sing this song.
Tori Scott: "Do You Wanna Dance."
I love this back to back segment with "Private Dancer" but it's her joyous "Do You Wanna Dance" (starts at 2:00) that gets me.
Patti LuPone: "Being Alive."
I remember this closing Act One of Patti LuPone Live on Broadway and watching the curtain come down as she hit that last thrilling note.
Judy Garland: "A Cottage for Sale."
Intimate, personal and heartbreaking, this is one of my very favorite Judy Garland performances.
Barbra Streisand: "When the Sun Comes Out."
If you are one of the last people on earth who hasn't watched this, what are you waiting for? This is how a singer melds with a band.
Carey Purcell, Staff Writer/Features Editor
Jessie Mueller singing "Tuscany"
This song gives me the chills and Jessie's beautiful, understated performance of it shows how, even just two years ago, her stardom was inevitable!
Robbie Rozelle, Graphic Designer
"I Had a Ball" from I Had a Ball
Karen Morrow belts out the brass-filled title number and is joined by the cast in Onna White’s exuberant choreography. This number has everything - belting, splits, gypsies… no idea WHAT is happening, but I have a ball every time I watch it. If you’ve never seen it, you’re welcome.
"Poor Little Person" from Henry, Sweet Henry
Alice Playten and the cast of Henry, Sweet Henry perform this fantastic number from the flop musical by Bob Merrill. Watching Michael Bennett’s infectious choreography and seeing Alice Playten emerge like a young Judy Garland, it never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Natalie Weiss: The Spark of Creation
This is my favorite performance by Natalie Weiss - the drive of the song, the riffs, and that high note that reverbs through the theatre - a perfect version of this wonderful song.
"Old Friend/Like It Was" from Merrily We Roll Along (Reunion Concert)
This concert was perfection, and I am so glad that part of it exists on YouTube so that I can relive it eternally. Ann Morrison, people… Ann Morrison. It is criminal that she hasn’t been on Broadway more than she has, but if this is the legacy to leave, what a legacy!
"The Miller's Son" from A Little Night Music (Ravinia)
I don’t want to live in a world where this doesn’t exist. Sara Ramirez giving glorious voice to Sondheim’s brilliant song. Again, if you’ve never seen this, YOU’RE WELCOME.