Cross that one off the bucket list! After a somber tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, James Corden kicked the 2016 Tony Awards into high gear with a stellar opening number that honored some of Broadway’s classic musicals from decades past.
The Late Late Show host made a grand entrance — introduced by the cast of Hamilton, natch — before launching into a monologue about this year’s nominees. “Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity,” he quipped, referring to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. “It is so diverse that Donald Trump is threatening to build a wall around this theater.”
Corden — a Tony winner himself and one of the stars of the movie musical Into the Woods — then sang a story about himself as a young boy going to his first live theater performance and falling in love with the arts. “That could be me,” he crooned.
He proceeded to live out his Broadway dreams, acting out lyrics from Les Miserables, The Lion King, Annie, Grease, The Sound of Music, The Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd. “That could be me,” he sang again and again as he switched costumes for each part.
Earlier in the week, the comedian spoke about the number in an interview with the New York Times, saying he wanted to reach kids around the country who — like him — dream of someday making it to the Great White Way.
“Let’s try to have an opening that talks to the theater kid in Nebraska, or Ohio, or Michigan, who dreams of being a performer on a stage one day, dreams of working on Broadway and to whom it feels so far away,” he said on June 9. “And this one night represents the center of their world for that day, you know? Let’s try and have a song that says you can absolutely do this.”
He added, “We’ll see on Sunday night if that comes through. I know who that kid is, because that’s who I was. In truth, that’s who everyone on that stage was. So that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Watch a clip from Corden’s opening number above.