James Corden will return to his Broadway roots on Sunday to host the 2016 Tony Awards. A Tony winner himself, he opted to prepare for the gig by inviting a slew of Broadway stars to drop by The Late Late Show for another segment of Carpool Karaoke.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that when you stick a bunch of Broadway stars in a car and ask them to sing show tunes, the result is one of those school field trips where the theater kids sit in the back of the bus and sing their way through the entire score to Rent.
In this year of Hamilton mania, Corden of course kicked things off with that show’s creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, singing its opening number ("What’s your name, man?" "Lin-Manuel Miranda!") and "Guns and Ships," with Corden doing those super-fast Lafayette raps and Miranda playing his hype man.
Then they picked up Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Jane Krakowski, who won a Tony in 2003 for her role in Nine; Modern Family star and theater veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson; and the legendary Audra McDonald, who currently holds the record for the most Tonys ever won and is the only person ever to have won Tonys in all four Tony acting categories (Best Actress in a Play, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Play, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical).
And what did this band of acclaimed — nay, storied — stars of stage and screen do next? They channeled every group of 12th-grade theater kids in the week before graduation for a rendition of Rent’s "Seasons of Love."
"Oh, you guys, best friends forever," Ferguson exclaimed as they ended, embracing Krakowski and McDonald.
"We should meet up in 10 years and see what we’ve achieved," said Corden.
Things took a turn for the jukebox musical with Jersey Boys' "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You," prompting the most spirited head-banging to a trumpet break that you are likely to see today.
Finally, they concluded with Les Mis’s Act I finale song, "One Day More." Miranda took the part of Valjean, complete with a Colm Wilkinson–style lisp on "Another day, another deshtiny." (Miranda is a noted Wilkinson fan and used to use Wilkinson's picture for his Twitter avatar.) Ferguson and McDonald performed a sweet duet as the lovers Marius and Cosette, shoving aside Krakowski’s attention-hungry and lovelorn Eponine, and Corden took things home as the revolutionary leader Enjolras.
Stick around to the very end to hear the trill McDonald puts on the final glory note, in a moment in which we are all Lin-Manuel Miranda shouting, "WHAT?!"