James Corden kicked off the 73rd Annual Tony Awards Sunday night with a boisterous, colorful number that highlighted the importance of Broadway in the time of streaming services.
He opened the show binging TV on a drab couch in a New York City apartment, telling the audience to “trade the remote” in order to experience a different kind of show – the kind “that’s live and can’t be hashtagged.”
Corden broke into a split during his dance number, belting out a song about the importance of being in the moment instead of streaming shows.
Television did get credit, though, with Corden telling the crowd, “TV we all love you.”
“You pay us so much more money than the theater,” he said, joking that most of the actors on stage had at one time or another played “Law & Order” corpses.
When CNN caught up with Corden earlier this week, he said that he thought their opening number was perhaps a bit too “ambitious.” It did not disappoint.
“We are going to open with what we think is a pretty ambitious opening number, which may be a mistake,” he said. “It certainly feels like it may be a mistake right now to try and do something so big, but we are really going to try.”
Although Corden seems to enjoy the spotlight, having hosted the Tony Awards in 2016 and the Grammy Awards in 2018, he said he battles extreme anxiety before taking the stage for these types of gigs.
“I get nerves to an almost crippling degree,” he told CNN. “I actually went to see someone about it at one point because it was getting to a point where I was so nervous it was unmanageable.
“This is a few years ago now, and then he taught me this thing that you’ve got to see nerves as a good thing. You’re only ever nervous when you want to do your best. You’re only ever nervous when something matters. So when nerves come, you’ve got to go, ‘Oh my God, this is great. I’m doing something that is important to me, and this is great that this thing has turned up to help me.’”
It’s a big night for the Great White Way – “Hadestown,” starring Reeve Carney, Amber Gray and André De Shields leads the way with 14 nominations, followed by “Ain’t Too Proud” with 12 and “Tootsie” with 11.