You don’t need to look very hard to find Neil Patrick Harris these days. The actor-slash-singer-slash-magician has hosted the Emmys, performed at the Oscars, and even headlined the World Magic Awards, which apparently are an actual thing. But despite his menagerie of ceremonial credits, the consummate entertainer admits that it’s the Tony Awards — which Harris is hosting for the third time on Sunday, June 10, on CBS — that hold the dearest spot in his heart.
“I think the celebratory tone of it makes it my favorite show to host,” says Harris, who previously celebrated Broadway’s biggest night with successful hosting gigs in 2009 and 2011. “In the Emmys and in observing the Oscars, it’s a bunch of individuals that hardly know each other that all work in their own business bubbles, and I think the opposite is true on Broadway. Most everyone is a) thrilled to be there, b) even more thrilled to be nominated but c) and I think most importantly, they all know and are supportive of each other, so you end up with this great evening where it’s not a lot of sour grapes.”
With last year’s Book of Mormon-dominated telecast dabbling in irreverence, this year’s ceremony should be noticeably more family-oriented, thanks in no small part to the heavy presence of a solid handful of mainstream plays representing one of the medium’s best seasons in recent memory. Despite powerful performances, plays typically tend to get short shrift at the musical-focused Tonys — a foregone conclusion of the ceremony that Harris hopes to change this year.
“I’m really trying this year to figure out a way to get performances by plays somehow in the show,” Harris tells EW. “Every year you focus mostly on the musicals, because that’s what’s easier to put on the stage, like a three-and-a-half-minute number from Anything Goes. But with so many amazing James Earl Joneses and Stockard Channings, we’ve got some amazing, monologue-talented people that I want to showcase the plays in a legitimate way.”
Does that mean we’ll be treated to a brief glimpse of Darth Vader and Rizzo in a monologue mash-up? (Most likely not, as that’s an awful idea on my part.) But what we can expect on June 10 is a high-energy telecast that commemorates the best of the year on Broadway and cements Harris as a master master of ceremonies.
“The more content I end up doing, then the less time everyone gets to spend watching performances, and really, in addition to doling out awards, that’s the reason you watch,” says Harris, who last year sang a duet with Hugh Jackman, a group performance with the New York Philharmonic cast of Company and a full opening and closing number. “Not to say I won’t be around. I’m hoping for the watercooler-y moments when you have to pause and go back and rewatch. There will be a couple surprises!”
As we count down the days until we can see what NPH has up his sleeve at the Tony Awards, we’ll just have to make do with his opening number from last year: