The 2013 Tony Awards: How Was Neil Patrick Harris' Opening Number? (Take Our Poll!)

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True confession time: I’m not much of a Broadway theater expert — unless you consider the fact that I recapped two seasons of Smash. (“Wait, that just makes you a masochist,” you say.)

But who can resist the charms of Neil Patrick Harris Hosting the 2013 Tony Awards? Certainly not me, especially when we’ll finally find out whether Bombshell or Hit List takes home the most statuettes. (I kid! I kid!)

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Seriously, though, let’s talk about Harris’ legendary opening number, which began with the four-time host channeling a scene from Once — and getting in a pretty funny dig at Shia LaBeouf in the process — followed by a gorgeous pan shot of Radio City Music Hall,  leading into a lightning fast tour of the current Broadway musical scene that seemingly included singers and dancers from every last one of ‘em. (Reality competition junkies: Any of you catch So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 grad Jess LeProtto in the mix with the boys of Newsies?)

Some of my favorite bits? The zinger, “you can bounce a quarter off the ass of Billy Porter” (regarding the nominated star of Kinky Boots); the sight gag of full-grown former Billy Elliots sulking in their tutus while Harris sang about the influx of child performers from Matilda and Annie this season; Harris informing the audience “you’ll get a Newsie in your gift bag when you go”; and yes, even that winking sarcasm regarding the big sceen Les Miserables, where Harris asked for a Tom Hooper-esque closeup, then declared, “on Broadway we don’t need extreme closeups to prove we’re singing live.” (This, after “disappearing” in a magic box on stage, reappearing out in the middle of the audience, and sprinting back to the front of the theater. Talk about stamina!)

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The final bit of the intro, a mesmerizingly quick-tongued rap from NPH, even found a beat to be emotinal, when the How I Met Your Mother Star reminding the assemblage ”we were that kid” while mentioning all the children at home watching their TVs and singing along to the music. The look of awe on Debra Messing pretty much summed up how great this opening number really was.

Oh sure, I could’ve could’ve lived without the Mike Tyson cameo and the joke about Berry Gordy “banging” Diana Ross, but any awards-show kickoff where the host ends up hanging for a good 30 seconds from a gigantic statuette at center stage is certainly worthy of the extended standing O that it receives.

What did you think of NPH’s 2013 Tonys opener? Rewatch it below, take our poll below, then sound off in the comments about the performance — and the rest of the Tonys telecast!


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