Tonys: What to Watch for at This Year's Show

CBS Upfront James Corden Onstage - Publicity - H 2016
Edward Erne/CBS

CBS Upfront James Corden Onstage - Publicity - H 2016

James Corden is taking on hosting duties, stepping into shoes filled recently by Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman, in the trailblazing year of 'Hamilton.'

The 70th Annual Tony Awards are this Sunday, and with James Corden hosting, anything can happen.

As The Hollywood Reporter's chief theater critic David Rooney said: Hosting the Tonys in the year of Hamilton is like hosting the Oscars when Titanic was up for its multitude of awards. With its unprecedented 16 nominations, the hip-hop phenomenon not only has the potential to break records in wins, but it also could give Broadway's biggest night a larger audience on Sunday.

"There are not many musicals that burned boundaries into the greater public consciousness, not just in America but internationally," Corden told The Hollywood Reporter when asked about the added pressure this year. "I feel very lucky to host this awards show in a year when such a huge thing is part of it."

Here are five reasons to tune into the Tonys on Sunday (airing live at 8 p.m. ET and tape delayed PT on CBS).

Hamilton: See the Room Where It Happens 

Hamilton has been nominated for a record-breaking 16 Tony Awards, more than any Broadway show ever. The cast is set to perform on Sunday, giving those at home a chance to finally see even a small part of the show. (Despite the world’s adoration for the musical, scoring tickets to Hamilton hasn’t been particularly easy due to a combination of through-the-roof demand and prohibitive cost.) The planned performance might also be the one chance viewers get to see the entire original cast perform before members like the mastermind behind Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, depart.

Miranda’s musical could also make history. With its 16 noms, will Hamilton best The Producers, which holds the title for its 12 wins in 2001? Though THR's math says it's a long shot, its certainly not impossible

Show-Stopping Entertainment

The Hamilton cast won’t be the only act to look forward to on Sunday. Others set to perform include the stars of The Color Purple, Fiddler on the Roof and Bright Star; nominees like Alex Brightman and the cast of School of Rock; Sara Bareilles, Christopher Fitzgerald and Jessie Mueller, along with the cast of Waitress; and Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren with the cast of Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, which is up for 10 awards. Plus, Gloria Estefan will take the stage with the cast of her On Your Feet! bio-musical.

The Competition

She Loves Me follows Hamilton with eight mentions, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, has seven, the highest number scored by a play this year. According to Tony spokesperson Shawn Purdy, this is the first year that five shows are nominated in the best musical category, including Bright Star, Hamilton, Shuffle Along, School of Rock and Waitress.

The Emcee

Corden doesn’t expect the audience watching at home to have seen Shuffle Along or Waitress or The Humans. Despite his admiration for Hamilton, the host plans to put on a show for those who won't be in the room where it happens. “It’s a fine line to walk between making lots of jokes about the Broadway season but also recognizing that this is television live across the country at 8 p.m.,” Corden said about the gig. The Late Late Show host — who has worked on Broadway twice, winning a Tony for lead actor in a play for One Man, Two Guvnors — says not being "too inside-baseball" is a part of his plan, though he will attempt to follow tradition by performing a splashy opening number. 


Barbra Streisand will be making her first appearance at the Tonys in 46 years. The legend last took the stage in 1970 when she accepted an honorary Tony Award. Streisand made her Broadway debut in 1962's I Can Get It For You Wholesale before graduating to a lead role role as Fanny Brice in 1964's Funny Girl. Both earned her Tony nominations. (She also won a best actress Oscar for the 1968 movie version of Funny Girl.)

Streisand's return to the Tonys precedes her nine-city North American concert tour, which is set to begin Aug. 2 in Los Angeles.

And the A-list presenters don't end there: Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Uzo Aduba, Jake Gyllenhaal, Steve Martin and four-time host Neil Patrick Harris also will be among the many stars on hand.

Follow all of THR's Tonys coverage below.