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The Tony Awards might not bring in the biggest audiences of any awards show each year-- after all, how many people see even one Broadway musical, much less all the the ones nominated?-- but good Lord, do they know how to put on a show for the people who tune in. Marshalling the resources of 121 current Broadway performers, along with his own boundless energy and sense of humor, Neil Patrick Harris pulled out all the stops in the opening number of last night's broadcast, turning in the kind of bravado musical performance that might earn a guy a Tony if it actually took place on Broadway.
This was NPH's fourth gig hosting the show, and given that he won an Emmy the first time he did it, it's no surprise to see him pull it off with aplomb. But as NPR's Linda Holmes points out in her wonderful post about this musical number, it's not just that Harris is great-- the entire musical number is, from start to finish. Yes, Broadway gives you a whole lot of options for featuring singing, dancing and spectacle, and a huge pool of talent to choose from to fill the stage. But when you compare the high energy and warm spirit of this to something like Seth MacFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" from this year's Oscars or even Hugh Jackman's cheerful number from a few Oscars back, it makes the movie world award shows look downright pitiful by comparison:
If you want something cheekier, and less focused on the sheer scale of Broadway musicals and more about some off-kilter jokes, check out the opening number from when Harris hosted the Tonys in 2011-- "Broadway has never been broader, it's not just for gays anymore!"
Harris has called hosting the Oscars a "bucket list" goal, and with MacFarlane recently confirming that he won't be back to host the ceremony next year, you have to assume Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are paying attention. NPH has one more chance to impress them-- he's hosting The Emmys in September. But based on the response to last night's big opening number, he doesn't even need the second chance. I can't be the only person who wants to nominate him as permanent host of everything for life.
Watch another great moment featuring Harris at last night's Tony Awards here.