WATCH: Neil Patrick Harris opens the 'big' Tonys with a bang
Harris danced, sang, performed magic, and even braved a duet with Mike Tyson. And that's just the show's first five minutes
The Tony Awards returned to New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night, after several years in exile at the smaller Beacon Theater, and the night's host kicked off the ceremony by promising a "bigger" evening of celebrating musical theater. (Watch above.) Did he deliver?
That's an understatement, says Neil Genzlinger at The New York Times. "It took Neil Patrick Harris only about three minutes to banish any worries that the fearsome Host Fatigue Syndrome would overtake him and the Tony Awards." In his fourth turn hosting the Tonys, in fact, "he set the bar so high with his introductory flourish that fears of another familiar Tony malady haunted the rest of the CBS broadcast: The dreaded How Do We Top the Opening Number Disease."
Harris packed an incredible amount into his eight-minute opener, says Lauren Moraski at CBS News. After paying homage to last year's winner, Once, the 39-year-old actor "launched into [a] colorful, nonstop, energy-filled performance featuring casts from nearly a dozen musicals" — and even a brief duet with boxer Mike Tyson, who has a one-man show on Broadway. "By the end of [the] opening number, Harris appeared out of breath — with good reason." And it was almost believable when he joked, "Well, that's our budget — good night!"
Harris' success isn't that surprising, says Steven Zeitchik at the Los Angeles Times. The Tonys gig "has earned him acclaim every one of the years he's done it." But that just "raises a question that just keeps percolating: Should Harris have a crack at the Oscars?" That's a notoriously tricky job — see MacFarlane, Seth — and Harris is understandably hesitant. But, movie fans, don't lose hope, says Zeitchik: Harris is shooting a movie with MacFarlane, next year's Oscars producers "have deep Broadway and musical ties," and Harris seems game. "I would think hosting the Oscars would be a great bucket list check-off," he says.