During a promotional visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week, perennial Tony Awards host, Neil Patrick Harris, promised that this year’s show would be bigger. As it turns out, he was not lying.
The June 9 broadcast began with a bang: a mission statement that built off Harris’s prior promise. With a song echoing the refrain “Make it bigger,” everyone’s favorite award show host (who is not the combined Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) opened up the show by bringing down the house.
With a cold opening straight out of Saturday Night Live, the host is introduced as a neophyte singer playing guitar in a pub. After a quick dig at Shia LaBeouf, who publicly removed himself from the Broadway play Orphans this past year, Harris ditches the guitar facade and gets into format. It turns out that the song is called “Make It Bigger” for good reason: Everything about this number exudes excess.
Actors from a wide range of nominated shows make appearances, including the casts of Matilda, Bring It On, A Christmas Story, and winner Kinky Boots. Mike Tyson makes an appearance, which is almost as surprising as the news this past year that he would have a one-man show. Eventually, some Newsies, Jersey Boys, and Lion Kings make their way on stage, celebrating successes from years past. Of course, the song belongs to Harris, who gives it his all.
The host literally jumps through hoops and performs a disappearing act like a magician. Some of the trickily speedy wordplay of his song recalls hip-hop at its tongue-twisty finest, only here it’s delivered by a visibly winded but game peak performer on live TV. In fact, Harris makes it a point to drive home the live element of plays by pointing out the comparatively tame vocal acrobatics of the film version of Les Misérables from last winter, which was celebrated for having recorded live. Harris’s vocal dexterity and clever song lyrics reveled in the electricity that make live musicals such high-wire entertainment.