5 Favorite Opening Numbers From the Tony Awards
As the Tony Awards approach, we rank our favorite opening numbers from years past.
The Tony Awards are celebrating their 71st year on Sunday, June 11, at Radio City Music Hall. Although the ceremony focuses on honoring the year's best on Broadway, we all look forward to watching the fantastic and flashy opening number. Here are our five favorite opening numbers from Tony Awards past.
5. "I Hope I Get It" Gets It Right
The 1976 Tony Awards utilized "I Hope I Get It" from the Broadway hit A Chorus Line as the opening number before the ceremony's first impression became as large an event as it is today. The original production of A Chorus Line earned nine Tony Awards that year, which is not entirely surprising given its remarkable choreography. The mesmerizing audition scene served as a fantastic opening number for the show, which Eddie Albert, Richard Burton, Jane Fonda, Diana Rigg, George C. Scott, and Trish Van Devere somehow all hosted.
4. Fifty Years of Broadway's Best
The Tony Awards turned 50 in 1996 and the American Theatre Wing celebrated the milestone properly. The ceremony opened with a clip from Tonys past and then brought out two Broadway legends: Bernadette Peters and Liza Minnelli to perform a rousing version of "The Show Must Go On," backed live by dozens of Tony winners from the last half-century. Finally, host Nathan Lane appeared with the company of his show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and they paraded around (and outside) the theater as they wrapped up this historic opening number.
3. Elton and Dolly and Liza, Oh My!
The 2009 Tony Awards featured performances from some of America's most venerated musicals, including West Side Story, Next to Normal, Guys and Dolls, and Hair. These productions and more rocked the show's opening number, which featured cameos from Elton John, Dolly Parton, Stockard Channing, and Liza Minnelli. The number ended with the entire theater singing and dancing to "Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In)," an opener that left everyone grinning from ear to ear.
2. James Corden Steals the Show
The 2016 Tony Awards could very well have ended after James Corden's opening number, which completely stole the show. After being (lightly) roasted by the men of Hamilton, the late-night funny man (and 2012 Tony winner for One Man, Two Guvnors) took the stage to profess his childhood dream of appearing in a show on a Broadway stage. He then lists characters from all of his favorite musicals that he could be, including Javert from Les Misérables, the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera, Simba from The Lion King, Danny Zuko from Grease, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street from Sweeney Todd, and even the Son of God from Jesus Christ Superstar. The number veers off track slightly as he envisions himself as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, the orphan Annie, Argentina's First-Lady Evita, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, and Effie in Dreamgirls. His amazing character singing and impressive dancing made Corden a top-tier host, but it was his heartwarming message to viewers at home that make this number our second-favorite: "This could be you, and this could be where you belong."
1. Neil Patrick Harris Delivers a "Bigger" and Better Opener
Coming in at our all-time favorite Tony Awards opening number is the opener from the 2013 ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. The number, entitled "Bigger," delivers on its promise by enlisting the help of more Broadway performers than have ever appeared on the Tony stage. In the seven-minute performance, Harris jumps though a hoop and performs a magic trick (while singing), climbs a gigantic replica of a Tony Award, and even pokes fun at the Les Misérables movie adaption: "On Broadway, we don't need extreme close-ups to prove we're singing live. We sing live eight shows a week, check it!" Did we also mention that Mike Tyson made a cameo? This magnificent opening number ended with a full minute of applause and a standing ovation from the entire audience at Radio City, as well as from many of us watching at home.
Hopefully, Kevin Spacey can deliver an opening number that rivals these crowd-pleasers.
Tune in to the 71st Annual Tony Awards live on Sunday, June 11 at 8 pm EDT on CBS. For more information, click here.