"How does an upstart Britain, best known for sittin' and jestin' from the desk in the middle of a forgotten slot of late night, far from Manhattan, chattin' with Hollywood phonies, end up being the guy who hosts the Tonys?" sang Leslie Odom Jr., who stars as Aaron Burr in the beloved Broadway musical, as part of a James Corden-themed satire of the production's opening number, "Alexander Hamilton."
Joined by co-stars Anthony Ramos and Daveed Diggs, who play revolutionary figures John Laurens and Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson respectively, the Hamilton cast used the parody to introduced the show's host, with Corden standing in for star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
After the brilliant introduction, Corden stepped forward to address the cheering audience. "Ladies and gentleman, what you just saw there was a parody of a little-known musical that goes by the name of Hamilton," Corden joked. "We like to give the little guys a leg up around here."
"I promise you, tonight's show will not be all about Hamilton. There will also be some commercial breaks," Corden added with a laugh. "Think of tonight like The Oscars, but with diversity. It is so diverse, Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theater."
Hamilton wasn't the only musical to get some love during Corden's monologue. The 37-year-old Late Late Show host took the audience on a journey of his fascination with the theatre, starting in childhood.
In a segment reminiscent of the sketches Billy Crystal famously opened the Oscars with, where he was digitally inserted in a series of famous film scenes, Corden inserted himself in an epic, costume-changing medley of Broadway's most famous shows.
Kicking things off playing Jean Valjean in a small-scale reproduction of the French revolution in Les Miserables, and quickly changing costumes to star in The Phantom of the Opera, Corden took the audience through The Lion King, West Side Story, Grease, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Annie and many, many others.
It was one of the most epic Tony Awards openings ever, rivaling even Neil Patrick Harris' numerous show-stopping routines as a four-time host of the Tonys, which many praised for their intricate design and impressive production value.
"Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved. Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that," Corden said, in part, before the Hamilton production began. "Tonight's show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle."