Corden’s big number began with the host sitting in his apartment, lamenting that watching television has become more of a chore than a thrill. (No argument here.) Theatre, on the other hand, is “visceral bliss,” something that gives you “actual people in an actual place.” Inviting the audience to “trade the remote for the near, leave your couch and travel here,” James’ apartment suddenly disappeared, revealing us to be on the Tonys stage.
What followed was an entertaining, exhausting song-and-dance marathon featuring cameos from the year’s biggest shows, including Beetlejuice and Tootsie. And speaking of cameos, Bryan Cranston — a Tony nominee for his role in Network — was caught sneaking out for a bathroom break in the middle of Corden’s big number, prompting him to channel his iconic on-stage persona: “I’m bloated as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
With that faux pas swept under the rug, Corden returned to his big number, which earned him a standing ovation from the energized audience. And, you know, a few sexy whistles from Cranston.
This opening number launched a full evening of performances from the best of Broadway, giving viewers a taste of shows like Ain’t Too Proud, Beetlejuice, The Cher Show, Hadestown, Kiss Me, Kate, Oklahoma!, The Prom and Tootsie.
Going into tonight’s show, Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown led the pack with a total of 14 nominations, followed by the Temptations musical Ain’t Too Proud with 12, and the stage adaptation of the movie Tootsie with 11. As for this year’s plays, The Ferryman and To Kill a Mockingbird tied for first with nine nominations a piece.
How do you think he kicked off the big night? Grade the performance below, then drop a comment with your full review.