Hugh Jackman will hit the stage tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City to host the Tony Awards. For Jackman, this will be his fourth time hosting the awards, but he’s been gone for some time. The last time he took on the duty of hosting the awards was in 2005.
A 2004 Best Actor in a Musical Tony winner for “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman’s return to the stage isn’t a huge surprise, and it’s one that’s welcome from someone with his Broadway pedigree. In an interview with the New York Times, Jackman discussed what people can expect from the Tony Awards this year.
The first year he hosted, there was a bit of improvisation, which terrified the X-Men star, but years later, it looks like he might welcome a bit of improv if he has to. Explaining an unscripted moment, Jackman said:
“I went out there and started to entertain. I asked for requests, and someone said, “Sing ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’.’” And Sean Combs got up and sung it with me.”
As for the opening of the show, Jackman said that there’s no way the Tony Awards can get bigger than last year’s Neil Patrick Harris opening number. This season, Harris is returning as a nominee for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” but Jackman still has high expectations, even though he called Harris’ hosting duties an “impossible act to follow.”
This time around, “After Midnight” is set to open the show with a wide variety of dancing from the cast. If the opening is a flop, we can always expect something special from Neil Patrick Harris, who will be performing a song from his Broadway show “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
For this year’s Tony Awards, some shows that weren’t nominated will be celebrated and featured. Of this decision, Hugh Jackman seems to see both sides of people embracing this idea and turning their nose up at it.
“I understand it’s not exactly fair, but at the end of the day the Tonys is the greatest advertisement for Broadway in America, and it’s the greatest awards telecast of all because it’s virtually wall-to-wall entertainment. Some people will never get to see a live Broadway show, but they can see the numbers each year on the Tonys.”
In addition to the exciting numbers from “Cabaret” and other plays that were not recognized by the committee, Jennifer Hudson will also sing a song from “Finding Neverland,” despite not being in the Broadway show. Of the idea that an A-lister would sing a song from a show they’re not involved in, Jackman seemed diplomatic:
“Having done the Oscars when Jennifer did the song from “Dreamgirls,” which wasn’t relevant to that ceremony either, I can tell you that I’ll never forget hearing her sing – and I think any chance to hear Hudson sing is a thrill. Ultimately with the Tonys, you have to see the bigger picture of it all.”
“I can tell you from having hosted both the Tonys and the Oscars, the Tonys is less precious, more open, more community-based, and they just want to put on a good show.”
The Tony Awards air live from Radio City Music Hall tonight at 8 pm.