Hosting any gig is a tough job, especially high profile ones like the Tony’s, which have been in need of a ratings boost for some time, so James Corden has the pressure gig this year.
Even if you haven’t seen a Broadway show in your life, you’ve probably heard of “Hamilton,” the smash hit that’s expected to sweep the 70th annual Tony Awards on Sunday night.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop ode to treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton has already earned him a Pulitzer, Drama Desk Awards and New York Drama Critics Circle honors and now has set the bar for the most Tony nominations (16), topping longtime record-holders The Producers (won 12 out of 15 nominations) in 2001 and Billy Elliot (won 10 out of 15 nominations) in 2009.
As the data shows, “Hamilton” is likely to conclude its winning streak with an impressive mic drop on the Beacon Theatre stage.
But the anticipation for the biggest night in live theater has the potential to not only benefit this singular production but the Tonys as a whole.
Over the years, viewership for the program has steadily decreased, and the universal praise for this show — along with the strategic choice of the popular “The Late Late Show” host James Corden — could be exactly what the ceremony needs to send it back into its former notoriety.
Last year, a mere 6.3 million Americans tuned in to the Tony Awards, according to Statista. This was down from a peak of 12.9 million in 1997, when “Titanic” and “Chicago” took home the most trophies.
When the viewership is cut in half, producers need a marquee name to step in. That’s why the show brought in “X-Men” star and former Tony Award winner Hugh Jackman to host in 2014, followed by Broadway legends Kristin Chenoweth (the original Glinda in “Wicked”) and Alan Cumming (the original Emcee in “Cabaret”) in 2015. But this year, the choice of Corden could finally be the Goldilocks host the ceremony has been looking for.
Corden is a familiar face on Broadway himself, having performed in “The History Boys” and “One Man, Two Guvnors,” for which he received a Tony Award for his portrayal of Francis Henshall in 2012. And his show, which airs on the same network as the Tonys, averages about 1.3 million viewers a night, behind NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” according to the New York Times. With a mix of viral, star-studded segments such as “Carpool Karaoke” — his episode with Adele gained more than 100 million views on YouTube — and out-of-the-box moments such as daring Harry Styles of One Direction to get a tattoo of the show’s name, he has taken the sleepy model of the adult late-night talk show and expanded it to appeal to a more universal audience.
And, according to the host, he hopes to bring this same inclusive approach on Sunday night. He told the Times that his goal for the show was to make it relate to a wider demographic. He said in an interview on Saturday night, “the worst way you can approach a show is to go, ‘Oh, we’re all in a club here — did you not get that? My job is to widen that net.’” This year, the Broadway world is certainly doing its best to make the perfect cast.