Tonys: James Corden's Musical Opener Pits Broadway Against TV

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James Corden

The returning Tonys host recruited performers from some of the evening's nominated productions to show why Broadway reigns supreme.

James Corden kicked off the 2019 Tony Awards by making an argument for live theater over streaming options (like television) with a buoyant song-and-dance routine.

"There's only so many series you can see / Only so many seasons to be binged / Before your eyes glaze over, your ass falls asleep and your mind starts coming unhinged / You watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon / 'Til you can't remember which program is on," the Tonys host sang on a lone couch before the curtain was drawn to reveal the audience. "I'm not speaking of network TV — which is wonderful, obviously."

"So when you're tired of flat-screen images / Of actors who aren't there / Playing parts in shows made far away, and finished long ago ... / Trade the remote for the near," he sang. "Leave your couch / And travel here."

Throughout the performance, Corden was joined by stars from a number of the night's nominated productions, including Hadestown and Beetlejuice.

Network's Bryan Cranston also made an appearance, though he quickly made it clear to Corden that he was simply getting up from his seat to run to the bathroom. "I am bloated as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" he yelled before Corden picked his song back up.

"The stage is our noble mission / We're much better than the television ... / Except for Game of Thrones. And Fleabag, and Handmaid's Tale, and Killing Eve...," Corden continued, naming off a wide variety of shows (including his own).

He showed television some love in other ways, too, such as pointing out the better pay for actors compared to Broadway.

Corden previously hosted the Broadway-lauding award show in 2016. The ceremony took place just hours after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, prompting him to open the show with a tribute to the 49 victims. 

"As the day went on, it became clear that we were going to have to talk about it in some way. I thought we had to bring it back to the Tony Awards — to say that this is a community who historically opened their arms to everyone: race, sexuality, gender — everybody is welcome," Corden recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "We decided that was how we were going to open the show and that maybe we could shoot from the back of the stage to see the room. In the end, it totally felt like it was right."

That same year — when Hamilton earned a record 16 Tony nominations — the show's telecast hit a 15-year ratings high. 

The 73rd annual Tony Awards are being broadcast on CBS from Radio City Musical Hall in New York.