Home > Music > Sara Bareilles, Vanessa Williams, Ledisi & More in ‘Great Performances: Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway’s Best’

Sara Bareilles, Vanessa Williams, Ledisi & More in ‘Great Performances: Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway’s Best’

Sara Bareilles, Vanessa Williams and Ledisi are among the artists who will be featured on Great Performances: Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway’s Best, which premieres Friday, May 12, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS and the PBS app.


The program, which marks Great Performances’ golden anniversary, is a revue of milestone Broadway shows from 1973 to 2023. The special will feature a mix of original stars and up-and-coming talent. Hosted by two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster, the program was taped on March 23 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in New York.

Bareilles sings “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress (for which she received a 2016 Tony nomination for original music score). Williams, who earned a 2002 Tony nod her performance in Into the Woods, performs a song from Kiss of the Spider Woman, which brought Broadway legend Chita Rivera her second Tony.

Other highlights of the special include Rivera performing her signature song “All That Jazz” from Chicago; André De Shields performing “So You Wanted to See the Wizard” from The Wiz; a tribute to A Chorus Line featuring Tony-winning original cast member Donna McKechnie joined by Robyn Hurder; and a tap number from Jelly’s Last Jam performed by Corbin Bleu.

Other performers on the show include Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Raúl Esparza, Shoshana Bean, Norm Lewis, Rob McClure, Patina Miller, Mamie Parris, Solea Pfeiffer, Britton Smith and Jessica Vosk.

The show features songs by such composers as Stephen Schwartz, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Fats Waller, Stephen Sondheim, Duke Ellington and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Great Performances: Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway’s Best is directed and choreographed by Tony winner Warren Carlyle with Patrick Vaccariallo as music director. The program was directed for television by David Horn, produced by Mitch Owgang and co-produced and written by Dave Boone.

One week later, on Friday, May 19, at 9 p.m. ET, Great Performances will air the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Richard III starring Danai Gurira (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Walking Dead) with Tony winner Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!) as Lady Anne. Tony nominee Robert O’Hara (Broadway’s Slave Play) directs this Shakespearean tragedy.

One week after that, on Friday, May 26, at 9 p.m. ET, there will be an encore presentation of Cole Porter’s classic 1934 musical Anything Goes, starring Foster (who won her second Tony for the 2011 Broadway production) as well as Tony winner Robert Lindsay. The show, restaged in London’s West End, was directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. Featuring such classic songs as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top” and the title song, the show first aired on PBS last year.

This is the season for Broadway programming. The 76th annual Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, are set for Sunday, June 11. The show will be held at the United Palace in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

Throughout its 50-year history on PBS, Great Performances has amassed 67 Emmy Awards and six Peabody Awards. The series is produced by The WNET Group. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.

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