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Top 10 Greatest Tonys Host Performances

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Script written by Nick Spake When you’re hosting the Tony’s you better know how to perform! For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable musical performances featuring the hosts of the Tony Awards. We've included “Celebrate Broadway” at the 47th Tony Awards, Broadway Divas” at the 52nd Tony Awards, “Take Me to Broadway” at the 68th Tony Awards, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly at the 45th Tony Awards and more!
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Top 10 Tonys Host Performances


It’s time to toast the hosts with the most to boast. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Tonys Host Performances.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable musical performances featuring the hosts of the Tony Awards.

#10: “Celebrate Broadway”
“47th Tony Awards” (1993)

The definition of musical royalty, Liza Minnelli has not only received four Tony Awards, but also hosted the ceremony in 1993. This was an especially significant year as it honored the 100th anniversary of theatre in Times Square. This opening number is a celebration of Broadway in the purest sense, commencing with a sensational solo from Barry Bostwick. Once Minelli storms onto the stage, though, she steals the whole show. Along the way, the ensemble references a series of Broadway classics any diehard musical fan will appreciate. Uniting the casts of “Cats,” “Guys and Dolls,” and numerous others, we couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate a century of singing and dancing.

#9: “Broadway Divas”
“52nd Tony Awards” (1998)

Host Rosie O’Donnell wasn’t the only Broadway diva who lit up the stage in 1998. Along with the dancers from “Chicago,” Rosie takes us on a trip down memory lane as we revisit some of the most legendary performances throughout Tony history. Making impeccable use of a rotating stage, we transition between three solo acts. First up is Patti LuPone singing “Don't Cry for Me Argentina” from “Evita.” Jennifer Holliday brings down the house with “And I Am Telling You” from “Dreamgirls.” Things then take a bittersweet turn as Betty Buckley serenades the audiences with “Memory” from “Cats.” As a grand finale, the three Tony winners join Rosie for an ensemble piece unlike any other.

#8: “The Show Must Go On”/ “Comedy Tonight”
“50th Tony Awards” (1996)

Celebrating the Tony Awards’ 50th birthday, this ceremony opens with a very special announcement from the Phantom of the Opera himself. Liza Minnelli and Bernadette Peters then take to the stage with a number appropriately titled “The Show Must Go On.” Their rousing duet eventually evolves into a full-blown chorus with some of the biggest names in all of Broadway, including James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, and Bea Arthur. The second half of the opening shifts to host Nathan Lane and the cast of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” singing “Comedy Tonight.” That same evening, Lane would win the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

#7: “Take Me to Broadway”
“68th Tony Awards” (2014)

For his fourth time as host, Hugh Jackman borrowed a page from Bobby Van in the 1953 film, “Small Town Girl,” hopping his way through Radio City Music Hall. You wouldn’t think hopping up and down would be anything special, but Jackman bounces around with the same level of enthusiasm as Tigger on a trampoline. In addition to hopping, he also shows off his jump rope skills while also taking the time to converse with his fellow thespians. Jackman only briefly stands still during an elevator ride with Neil Patrick Harris. As Jackman makes it back to the stage, we’re reminded that his singing chops are only matched by his gifts as a physical actor.

#6: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”/ “Camelot” / “I Could Have Danced All Night”
“45th Tony Awards” (1991)

Another Broadway great, Julie Andrews, has hosted the Tony Awards a total of three times. After moving us to tears with a performance of “Send in the Clowns” in 1984, Andrews returned several years later to revisit some of her greatest hits. Andrews had previously accumulated two Tony nominations for her performances as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and Queen Guinevere in “Camelot.” It’s only fitting that she dominated the stage with renditions of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “Camelot,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” This performance slowly transitions from being small and humorous to grand and dignified, showing off Andrews’ full range as a singer and leaving the audience wanting more.

#5: “This Could Be You”
“70th Tony Awards” (2016)

As a seasoned Broadway actor and the man behind “Carpool Karaoke,” it was only a matter of time until James Corden hosted the Tony Awards. The English comedian didn’t disappoint in 2016 when he opened the show with this inspiring number. Reminiscing about his early love for theatre, Corden speaks to every young kid who dreams of being on Broadway. The number has a certain childlike wonder that captures the sensation of watching a musical for the very first time. It also reminds us that shows like “Les Misérables” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Lion King” are more than just entertainment. They’re beacons of inspiration for generations of theatre lovers to come.

#4: “It’s Not Just For Gays Anymore”
“65th Tony Awards” (2011)

The 2011 ceremony was full of highlights, including a duet between host Neil Patrick Harris and his best frenemy, Hugh Jackman . However, nothing could outshine this Primetime Emmy-winning opening number, which forever diminishes the stereotype that Broadway shows are only for gay people. Enlisting the casts of “Catch Me If You Can,” “Sister Act,” “The Book of Mormon,” and “Anything Goes,” Harris demonstrates just how varied musicals have become, appealing to a wide range of audiences . He gets backup from celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Brooke Shields, and Bobby Cannavale as well. While also poking fun at his own sexual orientation, Harris delivers a marvelous performance that’s guaranteed to delight everyone- no matter their sexual preference!

#3: “Everything’s Coming up Roses”
“43rd Tony Awards” (1989)

Angela Lansbury hosted the Tony Awards a record-breaking five times and her opening performance at the 1989 ceremony just might’ve been her finest moment. Lansbury kicked things off with a rendition of “Everything's Coming up Roses” from “Gypsy.” She had previously performed this iconic number in 1974 on Broadway and she once again hit it out of the park with charisma, charm, and passion. Compared to some of the other entries on our list, this performance isn’t especially extravagant in terms of choreography or production value. Sometimes to make the crowd go wild, though, all you need is a show-stopping song and a pitch perfect voice.

#2: “Not the Boy Next Door”
“58th Tony Awards” (2004)

In addition to hosting the Tonys in 2004, Hugh Jackman also took home an award for his performance in “The Boy from Oz.” On top of that, Jackman’s hosting duties that year would later win him a Primetime Emmy for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. Jackman’s success at both of these award shows can be best summed up through his stimulating rendition of “Not the Boy Next Door.” Portraying real life singer-songwriter Peter Allen, Jackman turns in one of the most energetic performances ever to grace the stage. Singing, dancing, playing the piano, and working off Sarah Jessica Parker, Jackman proves that there’s nothing he can’t do.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“What If Life Were More Like Theatre?”

“66th Tony Awards” (2012)

“One Night Only”
“58th Tony Awards” (2004)

“Opening Number”
“64th Tony Awards” (2010)

#1: “Bigger!”
“67th Tony Awards” (2013)

After already hosting three times, it looked like NPH couldn’t possibly top himself. The Primetime Emmy-winning “Bigger!” more than lives up to its name, however. With music by Tom Kitt of “Next to Normal” and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton,” this number has everything… and we mean everything! In addition to musicals like “Once,” “Kinky Boots,” and “Matilda,” Harris makes some legendary references to “How I Met Your Mother” and Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables.” He even works Mike Tyson into the mix. The ensemble, which includes performers young and old, give 110%. With a giant Tony Award at the center of it all, this number blew the roof off Radio City Music Hall.
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