On Monday night, Tony Awards-hosting veteran Neil Patrick Harris and onetime host James Corden faced each other down for a cracking ‘Broadway Riff-Off.’
Unfortunately, the contest, which occurred on The Late Late Show With James Corden, did lead to a wardrobe disaster.
After the ad break, the 43-year-old admitted that when he’d knelt to sing Sugar Daddy from Hedwig And The Angry Inch, ‘I had a nice wardrobe malfunction, split my pants from my a** to my knee and I left it all on the stage for you.’
They began their competition when the How I Met Your Mother star – who’s hosted the Tonys in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 – strutted onstage, Corden feigning surprise.
Though the chat-show host wanted to get into his ‘brilliant bit of comedy about acronyms,’ Harris vamped: ‘We have a score to settle, and it’s about Broadway.’
As their banter heated up, the Gone Girl actor sniped: ‘I see you going around, hosting the Tonys, acting like you’re the only TV star who can sing show tunes.’
To ravening applause, he noted: ‘Some of us, dude, have actually won a Tony’ – in Harris’ case, Best Leading Actor In A Musical for Hedwig And The Angry Inch in 2014.
As Corden pointed out, ‘I’ve also won a Tony Award myself,’ snagging Best Actor In A Play for his leading performance in One Man, Two Guvnors in 2012.
‘Yeah,’ said Harris, ‘for a non-singing role. BURN!’ leaving the pair no other option to settle the score than what Corden called ‘a Broadway musical riff-off.’
Accompanied by a six-man choir, the 38-year-old launched into Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat from Frank Loesser’s 1950 score to Guys And Dolls.
Harris responded with Everything’s Coming Up Roses, the iconic first act closer from the 1959 musical Gypsy, modifying the line: ‘Honey, everything’s coming up roses for me and for you,’ to: ‘Corden, everything’s coming up roses for me, not for you.’
The Hillingdon native had to concede that ‘clearly we can both sing the classics’ – Harris: ‘Yeah, one of us can’ – but also insisted: ‘Broadway ain’t nothing unless you can sing a heartbreaking ballad.’
Perhaps slightly unfairly, Harris retorted by bursting into Being Alive, Stephen Sondheim’s eleven o’clock number for the 1970 show Company.
He’d had a bit of practice with the number, having sung it whilst playing the leading man, Bobby, in a 2011 concert version of Company at Avery Fisher Hall.
Corden’s response was On My Own from Les Misérables, which opened on Broadway in 1987. Inasmuch as Eponine, the character who sings it in the show, is a woman, the Gavin & Stacey star hadn’t had much prior professional experience in the role.
Giving his all: When the chat-show host sang On My Own from Les Misérables, he managed to hold one of his belt notes so long that Harris checked his watch and, afterward, fanned his eyes and admitted: ‘All right, man, that was pretty’
He still managed to hold one of his belt notes so long that Harris checked his watch and, afterward, fanned his eyes and admitted: ‘All right, man, that was pretty.’
Yet and still, Broadway, to him, is ‘also about being sexy,’ a challenge Corden decided to try and meet with All That Jazz, the opening number from 1975’s Chicago.
It was at that point that Harris veered into Sugar Daddy, unbuttoning his suit jacket, sinking to his knees and admirably concealing the tear that wound up resulting.
Hand of support: Corden at one point capitulated: ‘You’ve beat me,’ and called himself ‘a complete fraud,’ to the point his opponent had to encourage him back into the ring
Corden responded by capitulating: ‘You’ve beat me,’ and calling himself ‘a complete fraud,’ to the point his opponent had to encourage him back into the ring.
The pair closed out their performance by performing a duet of My Shot from Hamilton, which swept the most recent Tony Awards last June – Corden’s debut as host of the extravaganza.
This year’s Tony Awards will occur on June 11 at a currently unspecified venue, and with a currently unspecified host, in New York City.