Spring Awakening Tony Nominee Michael Arden Counts Down His 10 Ultimate Tony Performances
May 27th, 2016
by Michael Arden
Michael Arden made his Broadway debut in 2003 starring as Tom Sawyer in Deaf West's Tony-nominated revival of Big River, and this season, Arden earned an OCC Award and his first Tony Award nomination for directing the Tony-nominated Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening.
Scroll on as Michael Arden counts down his 10 favorite Tony night performances.
10. "Ragtime,” Ragtime, 1998
One of the best opening numbers ever written in the history of musical theatre. I also couldn’t believe how many people were onstage.
9. "Lullaby of Broadway", 42nd Street, 1981
There isn’t much to say about this, besides the fact that Jerry Orbach is a legend, and this performance encapsulates Broadway for me.
8. “Turkey Lurkey Time”, Promises, Promises 1969
So, I still have no idea what this song is about, BUT, I do know that this company is truly invested in it. The choreography by the great Michael Bennett is truly astounding and Donna is heaven on earth.
7. “Mama Who Bore Me/Bitch of Living/Totally Fucked”, Spring Awakening, 2007
I obviously was a fan of this show. I also happened to be Lea Michele’s date that evening. You can probably hear me screaming from the audience.
6. “Ring of Keys”, Fun Home, 2015
I had the pleasure of watching this performance in my living room in Los Angeles surrounded by the cast of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening while we were nearing the end of our run at the Wallis Annenberg in Beverly Hills. It’s no surprise that Jeanine Tesori’s work ends up on my list twice. This song spoke to me in a deep way, reminding me of what it was like to feel alone and then not. I can only imagine the impact this performance, played brilliantly for the camera by Sydney Lucas, did for countless souls.
5. “Lot’s Wife”, Caroline, or Change, 2004
Admittedly, I was somewhat obsessed with this show and score. Having seen it five times, I couldn’t believe the world was about to hear Tony Kushner’s damning and red-hot lyrics, “Murder me, God down in the basement.” and Jeanine Tesori’s aching, plaintive and harrowing music as sung by the incredible Tonya Pinkins.
4. Bernadette Peter’s “Rose’s Turn”, Gypsy, 2003
I absolutely loved this production and Bernadette’s performance in the role of Mama Rose. There was a desperation and terror in her eyes, during the performance that was absolutely haunting.
3. "River of Dreams/ Keep the Faith/ Only the Good Die Young", Movin’ Out, 2003
I had never seen dancing quite like this. Incredible vocals and powerhouse performers. Notice the incomparable Ronnie Todorowski doing repeated front walkovers and the force of nature that is John Selya. What a celebration of the human form.
2. “La Vie Boheme”, Rent, 1996
I will never forget watching this clip in my grandparents’ home in Midland, Texas when I was in middle school. They were shocked at what had invaded their television screen, and I was mesmerized and electrified. It was music like I’d never heard and people I had never seen, yet knew I had to live amongst. I immediately began a complete wardrobe makeover.
1. "We'll Take A Glass Together,” The Grand Hotel, 1990
This is quite possibly my favorite performance on the Tony Awards. Incredible choreography and staging by Tommy Tune and perhaps the single greatest musical performance of a song ever onstage by the late, great Michael Jeter. Let this be a master class to anyone using a glass or cup onstage.