Neil Patrick Harris and the Tony Awards: Looking through the years

May 9, 2013

Neil Patrick Harris will host the 67th Tony Awards on June 9. Also, the sun rises in the East.

Jeff Christensen, file/Associated Press
Jeff Christensen, file/Associated Press

Harris previously hosted the awards show last year, in 2011 and 2009, making the “How I Met Your Mother” star and Broadway veteran something of a predictable choice. But his growing popularity and quick wit have done well with audiences in the past – at least according to a fast look through The Post’s Tony Award archives.

When Harris was tapped to host the award’s show in 2009, he was hardly the household name he is today.  His performance was good enough for the producers to bring him back for the hosting spot in 2011, where his performance earned praise from critics. The Post’s Peter Marks wrote, “with Harris at the helm, the show was one of the smartest Tony telecasts in memory, moving securely from entertaining if often promotional musical numbers to the host’s winking comic interludes; a competitive bit between Harris and one-time emcee Hugh Jackman was a highlight.”

Before the 2012 awards show, Harris appeared on The Colbert Report to talk about hosting the show again:

“I find you a threat, because you’re the classic triple threat,” Colbert said by way of opening the interview on his Comedy Central show.

“You’re an actor/singer/dancer. You’re the biggest single threat of all: you’re a gay person I like. Your threat is that you make being gay not seem threatening. .. it’s almost as if your happiness does not take my happiness away. Do you admit that you’re a likeable gay person?”

“I want to thank you for allowing a gay man on your show,” Harris said.

“You know what? It’s a first,” Colbert acknowledged.

“I don’t think so,” Harris teased.

(See video)

Harris’s smarts couldn’t help the show last year, though. The 2012 Tony Awards was the second-lowest ratings for the telecast since 1988, seen by 6 million viewers (down from 2011′s 7 million).

If the awards show didn’t perform well last year, the host doesn’t seem to show doubts that it will be a hit this time around. In a statement released Thursday, Harris said: “The show will rock!”

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