The 2013 Tony Awards: How Was Neil Patrick Harris' Opening Number? (Take Our Poll!)

Neil-Patrick-Harris-TonysTrue confession time: I’m not much of a Broadway theater expert — unless you consider the fact that I recapped two seasons of Smash. (“Wait, that just makes you a masochist,” you say.)

But who can resist the charms of Neil Patrick Harris Hosting the 2013 Tony Awards? Certainly not me, especially when we’ll finally find out whether Bombshell or Hit List takes home the most statuettes. (I kid! I kid!)

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Seriously, though, let’s talk about Harris’ legendary opening number, which began with the four-time host channeling a scene from Once — and getting in a pretty funny dig at Shia LaBeouf in the process — followed by a gorgeous pan shot of Radio City Music Hall,  leading into a lightning fast tour of the current Broadway musical scene that seemingly included singers and dancers from every last one of ‘em. (Reality competition junkies: Any of you catch So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 grad Jess LeProtto in the mix with the boys of Newsies?)

Some of my favorite bits? The zinger, “you can bounce a quarter off the ass of Billy Porter” (regarding the nominated star of Kinky Boots); the sight gag of full-grown former Billy Elliots sulking in their tutus while Harris sang about the influx of child performers from Matilda and Annie this season; Harris informing the audience “you’ll get a Newsie in your gift bag when you go”; and yes, even that winking sarcasm regarding the big sceen Les Miserables, where Harris asked for a Tom Hooper-esque closeup, then declared, “on Broadway we don’t need extreme closeups to prove we’re singing live.” (This, after “disappearing” in a magic box on stage, reappearing out in the middle of the audience, and sprinting back to the front of the theater. Talk about stamina!)

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The final bit of the intro, a mesmerizingly quick-tongued rap from NPH, even found a beat to be emotinal, when the How I Met Your Mother Star reminding the assemblage “we were that kid” while mentioning all the children at home watching their TVs and singing along to the music. The look of awe on Debra Messing pretty much summed up how great this opening number really was.

Oh sure, I could’ve could’ve lived without the Mike Tyson cameo and the joke about Berry Gordy “banging” Diana Ross, but any awards-show kickoff where the host ends up hanging for a good 30 seconds from a gigantic statuette at center stage is certainly worthy of the extended standing O that it receives.

What did you think of NPH’s 2013 Tonys opener? Rewatch it below, take our poll below, then sound off in the comments about the performance — and the rest of the Tonys telecast!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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93 Comments
  1. TV Gord says:

    NPH FTW!

  2. erin says:

    As is the case with everything NPH does, I LOVED IT.

  3. The opening was legen….wait for it…dary!

  4. Meg says:

    2009 still takes the cake for me, but this was pretty good.

  5. dani n. says:

    Didn’t see.My mom said it was great. THAT NPH is really talented. My mom knows!

  6. Jenny says:

    I loved it! Such a great celebration of past and present shows. I loved the earnest “we were that kid” line. I really like that they’re having characters from current Broadway shows introducing the nominated shows’ musical numbers.

    • Ellie says:

      Me too! It was wonderful to see the new shows, the new/old shows (aka revival’s) and the current shows, all celebrated tonight!

  7. I loved it but to me it still does not compare to his It’s not just for gays anymore opening

    • Ric says:

      Was glad Tony’s was not on NBC it would have been cancxd…..shame on them for new nome n smash getting the ax…. But leave it to NPH to make the Tonys the fab show it was !!!!

  8. Kanne says:

    Neil, Tina , and Amy should be the only people to ever host any awards shows. Amazing how talented these people are!!’

  9. Stephanie says:

    I love the Tony’s, but I would watch any award show that NPH hosted! Seriously one of the most talented people in the business! Amazing!

  10. Lindsay says:

    Evan Kasprzak was also there!

    • wordsmith says:

      Was he? I know I saw Jess LeProtto there as the featured newsie, but I didn’t spot Evan in the crowd.

      • Maggie says:

        Evan and Jess are in Newsies, Thayne Jasperson from season 4 is in Matilda (but he & Alex Wong used to be in Newsies) and Ariana DuBose from season 6 is in Motown (she actually performed twice tonight, before Motown she was in Bring it On!)

    • jalahyacinth says:

      Yup. I was SO excited when I found out he was in the show a few months ago :) He’s always been so good at the Broadway dance style :)

  11. katherinemichelleh says:

    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, and NPH knocked it out of the park! Absolutely phenomenal.

  12. BBC says:

    NPH is so full of himself.

  13. My says:

    Fabulous opening! NPH should be permanent host!!

  14. Jared says:

    NPH is my hero. That’s man is truly talented.

  15. Susie says:

    I hated missing the first few minutes of NPH’s FANTASTIC opening, but just glad I got to see most of it! Watching The Tonys every year and hearing about & seeing who’s doing what in the theater is something I really look forward to every year! If the amazingly talented NPH is hosting again next year (and why in the world WOULDN’T he?!), I’ll be parked in front of my biggest-screen TV well in advance of the exciting first opening picture and sound!

  16. Henry says:

    Mean spirited and crass. The Berry Gordy dig was tasteless. Jabs at Tyson, LaBeouf and others were cheap shots. I thought you were better than that.

    • Amanda says:

      “Jabs” and “shots” at Tyson? *snort laugh*

      I totally disagree, by the way. Having seen all the rest of the Tony intros, they’ve all had jokes along the same lines. Slight crass is nothing new. Loved it, definitely the biggest (and the best).

    • meme says:

      Ummm, did you miss the shot of Berry Gordy laughing his butt off? Or the part where Tyson was ON THE STAGE??? Why are you outraged when the subject of these “cheap shots” CLEARY were not? Get over yourself already!

    • Olive says:

      Um, Tyson is a convicted RAPIST! We’re worried about offending him? Really?

    • Carrie says:

      Jabs at Tyson? Did you mean to be punny? The man showed up and danced on stage. It was hilarious. And NPH employed the comedic trick of using the same joke in different ways – it was hilarious and Tyson was in on it. He has made a career of poking fun at himself – Hangover much?

      My only problem with NPH is that he is not my husband! Love him.

  17. Joey says:

    The opening was great. I can’t wait to see what NPH will do for The Emmys opening.

  18. Sue B says:

    Brilliant! NPH should host EVERY awards show!

  19. Jennifer says:

    OUTSTANDING!!! Can we get NPH to host every televised award show forever!!??

  20. wordsmith says:

    Still trying to figure out how he got up to the back of the theater so quickly during that magic box illusion…

    • Sheila says:

      Weren’t you paying attention? It was MAGIC!!! Maaaaaaaagic!

    • lyn says:

      Trap door stage floor corridor to lobby, Score!

    • Cori says:

      And have the breath to keep singing. I assume getting back there involved a lot of running!

      • Mel says:

        I was AT the dress rehearsal (bucket list, check) where NPH ran through it twice and I still have no idea. It was phenomenal.

    • Dan says:

      It looks like he had about 15 seconds to make the trip. I think he slid down the bottom of the stairway into a trap door on the stage floor, then probably into a golf cart in the lower level to whisk him to the back. From there, he gets onto a platform that lifts him up into the side entrance area; he runs down the cross-aisle, then backwards a bit up the aisle to his mark. Either that, or he has a twin.

  21. ABC says:

    He is so overrated.

  22. Merissa says:

    LEGEN…wait for it…DARY!!!!!

  23. Heidi says:

    I liked the opening, but that bit with Megan Hilty, Andrew Rannells, and Laura Benanti was golden.

    • wordsmith says:

      Yeah, that was priceless. I really hope Bunheads gets picked up, but it almost would have been worth it to have Sutton Foster added to that lineup.

    • dan says:

      Funny that all three cancelled shows were from NBC!

      • Jennifer says:

        Laura Benanti kept mentioning she had 2 NBC shows that got cancelled. I know one was Go On, but I have no idea what the other was. Was it from this season too? I thought maybe she was referring to her husband’s show that NBC cancelled after 3 episodes.

  24. CarlFay says:

    I can’t stand NPH. He can’t sing. He sounds like a contestant that tries too hard to wow. And there’s some goony, nasty persona he possesses like a more b*tchy David Letterman.

  25. jax says:

    Michael! No mention of the group number including the fabulous Megan Hilty poking fun @ Smash? (among other cancelled TV shows)

    • heyang says:

      The cancelled TV shows are mentioned more in recaps of the entire broadcast. This article is just about the opening #

  26. Ellie says:

    Question that one of you wise people at TVLine Or a wise reader OF TVLine can hopefully answer for me. NPH has won awards for his hosting duties before. If he submits his work again for the Emmy’s, Golden Globes etc., will he be considered for the upcoming 2013 Emmy’s OR because his performance was during 2013, he would be considered during 2014? I really hope thats not confusing. thanks in advance

    • Ellie says:

      and I ask all of this because NPH was absolutely spectacular! His opening number was incredible and I too noticed Debra Messing and felt the look on her face summed up exactly how I was feeling; “The look of awe on Debra Messing pretty much summed up how great this opening number really was.”
      Please someone explain to me why he hasnt hosted the Oscars?

      • dan says:

        The qualifying period for the 2013 Emmy’s is over, so Neil would have to be considered in the “individual performance” category for 2014. It is my understanding that the Emmy Award Show is the only show that is not eligible for an Emmy so his hosting duties on that show wouldn’t garner him any awards. I think he won his Emmy as Producer of the Tony’s a few years ago (not for actually hosting it).

        • Kathy says:

          NPH Is superb! He gets better with age. He makes my day. What talent! I look forward to anything NPH Does in life. Tops on my list for top performers!! Please, Neil, don’t ever burnout.

  27. lisa says:

    Neil Patrick Harris is the best host ever!!!! He is amazing!!!

  28. tric05 says:

    Neil Patrick Harris can host the Tony’s forever, if I have any say! LOVE him! Was glad to see a classier performance this year, but would hate to see them try to repeat success at the Emmy’s… too much of a good thing might take away from what I look forward to every year

  29. jansen says:

    Did he hit his head when he jumped through the hoop?! Looks like there is a little bit of blood coming off his head…

  30. Andrea says:

    If last night was any indication, the Emmys are bound to be fabulous! NPH was terrific!

  31. Vida says:

    ABSOLUTELY GREAT!
    Congrats to NPH & Brodway, it was a great night, thank you!

  32. Sharon says:

    I honestly stood up, clapped and yelled right in my living room when the opening number ended. And how did those cheerleaders stay balanced up there through the extended ovation??

  33. Kim R says:

    I wish there was a higher letter than A! It was incredible. He really is something else. :)

  34. jay says:

    It was sheer joy to watch that number and I will again and again. So much love in the room for including all the shows not just the newest.

  35. Tedatbent says:

    Just give him his Emmy right now.

  36. Jen says:

    Who the heck gives NPH a fail????? Does that person just hate life?

  37. Jennifer says:

    That opening is the first and only time I have ever seen that I even thought deserved a standing ovation. And bringing Tony back home to RCMH was the icing on the cake. I almost never watch these shows straight through but knowing NPH was hosting there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to miss any of it.
    Normally there’s nothing on Sunday nights during the summer, but this time everything was on! I’m so thankful for DVRs!

  38. JLK says:

    My daughter was trying to change the channel and it didn’t register all the numbers she typed in…just the 2, which is our CBS channel. The Tonys were just starting, and in seconds, she forgot whatever show she was trying to find. She just sat there smiling…watching that intro number. My husband went to check on her a few minutes later, came upstairs, and said, “Well, your life’s mission to make your daughter a theater fan has apparently been accomplished. She shushed me and told me to leave her alone because she’s watching the Tonys now.” For the show to hold the interest of a 7 year-old, you know they were doing something right. She came upstairs during the commercial and said, “Mom! Dad said you’re recording this…and you’ve gotta see it later! Annie…Cinderella…you know…not cartoon Cinderella, but that other video that you have (The Brandy/Whitney Houston Wonderful World of Disney version)…Spiderman. There was magic! It’s just a-MAAAZE-ing!”

    She was so happy for the hour of the show she got to watch before bed. She sang along to Impossible and the other tunes in the Cinderella medley…oohing and aahing over the set design and costumes. She adored all the kids singing and dancing in the Matilda number. Honestly, thank you to everyone involved. She’s been begging me to take her to New York for a year now, and our trip just got a little longer because now she made me promise to take her to see a Broadway show too. We go to the theater at home quite a bit, but last night made her understand that as lucky as we are to have great theater in Chicago, it’s not Broadway. And, she’s right. It’s really not the same…even though we like to kid ourselves that it is sometimes.

  39. Anna says:

    I couldn’t get the stupid grin off my face whilst watching the opening. NPH is seriously the best!

  40. heyang says:

    Definitely one of the better recent Tony broadcasts. Enjoyed all of the #’s and NPH as host.

  41. Mia S says:

    NPH was amazing!
    He can play guitar?
    Learned something new.
    He is the MASTER of Ceremonies!

    AND…HUGE KUDOS to the stage hands that moved more stages than I could count.
    Amazing job by them and the people that had to mic up all those people.
    CONGRATS!

  42. Shannon says:

    NPH proves once again that he’s an amazingly talented performer, and that live theater is a fabulous way to spend your time and entertainment dollar. Good on him!

  43. MAS says:

    NPH is truly a very talented individual. A true performer and entertainer.

  44. Rowan77 says:

    Love it! NPH is so talented and his attitude is so refreshing.

  45. Millbrook Sal says:

    Gimme Nathan Lane ANY day! Neil Patrick Harris pales in comparison to real broadway talent. He’s a cocky arrogant wanna be. The masses are asses! Leaves me cold. Ugh..

  46. Erin says:

    Holy crap, that was amazing! Bravo to all involved.

  47. Amanda says:

    Would they just let this man host the Oscars already

  48. Leela says:

    For me it was all downhill after the opening. NPH should host the Oscars.

  49. Harmony says:

    Favorite moments were the number about former broadway stars whose tv shows have been cancelled and seeing that Rory Pond is alive and well and still in New York. :’)

  50. Ally_D says:

    As a theater fanatic and TV geek I loved every second. I thought the ‘Not Just For Gays Anymore’ opening a few years ago was better but all the same this (and the entire broadcast) was brilliant.
    .
    NPH is now as fundamental to The Tony Awards telecast as peanut butter and jelly to a good sandwich. They made him a producer several years ago – possibly as a way to secure his services – but can we really hope for a 5th outing in 2014? Would that just be tempting fate – all of his hosting jobs have been very well received and I’d hate for him to crash and burn. Quit while you’re ahead never felt truer but I feel bad for whoever has to take on the mantle…

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