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Dancing Nuns, Swinging Sailors and Raining Men: We Rate the 2011 Tony Award Performances

Dancing Nuns, Swinging Sailors and Raining Men: We Rate the 2011 Tony Award Performances
Andrew Rannells in 'Book of Mormon,' Norbert Leo Butz in 'Catch Me if You Can,' & Sutton Foster in 'Anything Goes'
We rate the Tony Awards performances.

Sure, it's fun to see which stars take home Tony Awards on Broadway's biggest night, but for many viewers, the most exciting moments come when casts from the competing musicals take the stage. The performances provide a huge opportunity for shows to showcase themselves to ticket-buyers across the country. Not only did the 2011 telecast feature songs from each contender, but the yet-to-open Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, long-running hit Memphis and host Neil Patrick Harris also earned center-stage moments. Below, weighs in on each performance. Take a look at what we thought, then vote for your favorite in our poll!

“Brotherhood of Man,” How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
There's no denying the pure joy Daniel Radcliffe and his Broadway “Brotherhood” exude in the hit revival's signature production number. Rob Ashford’s handstand-filled, high-kicking, all-around-acrobatic choreography comes across beautifully on the small screen, and it’s always a treat to see Radcliffe and Ellen Harvey (who plays secretary Miss Jones) transformed into human metronomes as they’re flung back and forth on that boardroom table. A

“Live in Living Color/ Don’t Break the Rules,” Catch Me If You Can
Aaron Tveit sounded fantastic as he belted out a few bars of Catch Me’s opening tune “Live in Living Color,” but he gracefully stepped aside to let co-star Norbert Leo Butz prove why he would later take home the Best Actor trophy. Butz’s manic energy and Astaire Award-winning dance moves were in full force as he blazed through “Don’t Break the Rules.” The musical’s ensemble deserves a shoutout, too, for keeping up with their star's furious footwork. A

“Anything Goes,” Anything Goes
In the tap-tastic number that helped seal Kathleen Marshall's Best Choreography win, Best Actress winner Sutton Foster looked radiant—and her diction remained sensational—as she sang and danced her way up and down the Beacon stage. Weaving between suave sailor dancers, throwing her limber arms up in joy…is there anything this woman can’t do? Our only complaint: much of the seven-minute long song’s vocals were sacrificed due to time constraints. A

“Raise Your Voice,” Sister Act
Home viewers expecting to see the signature Motown tracks from the original Sister Act movie were surely pleasantly surprised by the spirited new song, “Raise Your Voice.” Staying true to the title, leading lady Patina Miller was in top form as she coached her eager convent of singing nuns. Marla Mindell stood out as mousy postulant Mary Robert and the beaming smile of Sarah Bolt, as Sister Mary Patrick, is always contagious. These ladies are fabulous, baby, and deserve a resounding hallelujah. A-

“Steal Your Rock ‘n' Roll,” Memphis
Was showcasing last year’s Tony winner for Best Musical really necessary? Probably not, but you can’t argue the overwhelming positive energy emanating from the NYC kids who found themselves rocking out with the cast at the Tony Awards. It was especially fun to see the young guests interacting with the famous folk on the aisles, including a slightly confused Chris Rock, a shimmying Tammy Blanchard and a visibly moved Kathleen Marshall. B+

“Side By Side By Side,” Company
Host Neil Patrick Harris proved he’s a fantastic showman in his opening number, and his streak continued as he reprised his role as Company’s permanent bachelor, Bobby. Going side by side with his famous co-stars from the New York Philharmonic concert (Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks and many more), the ensemble number didn’t allow the barrage of celebrity lineup to step into the spotlight on their own, but that’s just another reason to catch the filmed concert when it hits movie theaters next week. B+

“Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!/ Commencing In Chattanooga,” The Scottsboro Boys
Six months after their closing performance, the Boys are back in town. Armed with tambourines, Joshua Henry and his co-stars marched out with the show’s bouncy first song, “Hey Hey Hey," then segued into the slightly less exhilarating “Commencing in Chattanooga.” We’d have preferred to see the cast continue their “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!” tapping rather than take a seat on the makeshift train. On the other hand, you’d never suspect this ensemble hasn’t performed together since last December. B

"I Believe," The Book of Mormon
Don’t doubt our devotion to The Book of Mormon, but we can’t help but feel this performance was a missed opportunity. Sure, CBS censors would have gone into cardiac arrest had the cast performed the expletive-filled “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” but “I Believe” doesn't fully capture the show's playful spirit. Andrew Rannells was in fine voice as Mormon missionary Elder Price, but it would have been great to see him share the stage in an ensemble number (especially after Nikki M. James' moving and hilarious speech). Nonetheless, Rannells delivered a stirring performance, pointing out the quirks of certain Mormon beliefs (“I believe the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri”). We still believe in Mormon, this just wasn’t quite the religious experience we hoped for. B

“If the World Should End,” Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark
For a show that’s drummed up so much publicity over the last year (including a friendly 30-second berating by host Neil Patrick Harris), the Spidey performance didn’t quite soar. “If the World Should End” is one of the stronger song’s from Spider-Man, but it comes during a stunt-free, actionless moment in the show…the opposite of what audiences were probably hoping to see. Still, sexy star Reeve Carney brought the heat as he gazed adoringly into co-star Jennifer Damiano’s eyes against set designer George Tsypin’s mesmerizing spider-web backdrop. Spider-Man himself may not have flown onstage, but the sparks between the two actors definitely did. B

“It’s Raining Men,” Priscilla Queen of the Desert
This number was a bit of a hodgepodge, with Weather Girl Martha Wash (who doesn't actually appear in the show) kicking off Priscilla's number by belting out the opening song, disco anthem “It’s Raining Men,” introduced by songwriter Paul Shaffer. Cast members paraded about in the production's eye-popping, Tony-winning outfits, then the ensemble showed off the elaborate headdresses and choreography from “I Will Survive.” The number was an attempt to showcase highlights from the show, but the visual feast never quite gelled, and the stars, including nominee Tony Sheldon weren't given moments to shine. B-

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