The Top 5 Tony Awards Performances

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Talk about Broadway belters! With the 69th annual Tony Awards airing Sunday on CBS, we take a look back at the show's top performances from years past. Above, Debbie Allen wows with her version of 'America' from the 1980 revival of 'West Side Story.' (YouTube photo)
Talk about Broadway belters! With the 69th annual Tony Awards airing Sunday on CBS, we take a look back at the show’s top performances from years past. Above, Debbie Allen wows with her version of ‘America’ from the 1980 revival of ‘West Side Story.’ (YouTube photo)

The 69th annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air on CBS Sunday, June 7 at 8 p.m. Hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, the show will be broadcast live from New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and featured theater stars will include Chita Rivera, Christian Borle, Brian d’Arcy James, Victoria Clark and more.

This year, you can catch performances from the 2015 Tony-nominated shows for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Musical, but to tide you over until Sunday, here are the Top 5 performances from the Tony Awards.

“America” from “West Side Story” sung by Debbie Allen (1980)


Debbie Allen was a breakout star in 1980 when she was cast as Anita in the first Broadway revival of “West Side Story.” She earned a Tony Award nomination for the role and became known as a triple threat in the entertainment industry for dancing, singing and acting. After Allen gained national recognition, she was cast in the popular TV show “Fame.” The original “West Side Story” was featured on Broadway back in 1957 starring Chita Rivera.

“Seasons of Love”/”La Vie Boheme Medley” sung by the cast of “Rent” (1996)


“Seasons of Love” landed on the Billboard 100 and was also one of the final musical-theater hits to become mainstream. Back in 1996, the Italian opera story “La Boheme” was combined with the ’90s grunge environment including a bucket-drumming drag queen, AIDS-inflicted partners with a love story, bitter rockers and more. The newer generation found themselves fascinated by the performances and could identify with life’s struggles dealing with love, loss and life in general.

“You Can’t Stop the Beat” from “Hairspray” (2003)

“You Can’t Stop the Beat” received rave reviews as the finale in the “Hairspray” musical. “Hairspray” is a story about an overweight girl who finds herself becoming an overnight star on a teen dance show and eventually bringing the civil rights movement to her home city Baltimore. “By the time the whole cast rocks out to the contagiously elating finale, the show has shifted into high gear and hearts have been won,” The New York Times wrote about the show in 2010.

“I’m Here” from “The Color Purple” sung by Fantasia Barrino (2007)

When Fantasia Barrino was first cast as the role of Celie for the musical, the audience was not too sure that she would deliver a stellar performance. There were questions as to whether this was a stunt and if she could even pull it off. In the end, her performance wowed the “American Idol” fans — and those in the theater community.

“And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls” sung by Jennifer Holliday (1982)

“Dreamgirls” was not a winner of the Tony Awards that year, but the performance from Jennifer Holliday won over the hearts of many fans. She gave a fantastic performance, especially when she hit some extremely high notes.

Jae Monique is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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