“Dancing With the Stars” alum Julianne Hough is making her Tony Awards debut as co-host of the pre-show “The Tony Awards: Act One” alongside Broadway star Darren Criss. In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” the two hosts talked about what they have in store, plus the current Broadway shows they are each starring in.
Julianne & Darren Say Hosting the Tony Awards is ‘Iconic’
On “CBS This Morning,” Julianne said this is her first experience with Broadway and she couldn’t feel more honored to have been asked to co-host the first hour of the Tony Awards.
“This is my first experience coming out to New York and being a part of the Broadway community and … [it’s] so generous and kind and welcoming. But also, after the last couple years, Broadway coming back and the 75th anniversary [of the awards], this is truly an honor to be able to be asked to host this first act of the Tony Awards. It’s gonna be great,” said Julianne.
Darren added, “[T]he Tony Awards are, personally, one of my favorite nights of the year, mainly because … the vibrancy of the theater community, which is already without the pageantry of awards shows is such a special and very unique thing that is such a part of the genetic, cultural material of New York City, so just having a night to honor so many people that keep Broadway alive is so much fun.”
He also said that he has admired Julianne for so long and he enjoyed working on some past projects with her, so it’s “pretty cool” for them to be “singing and dancing [their] way across the Radio City Music Hall stage.”
“It’s pretty iconic,” added Julianne.
Darren Wrote Their Opening Number
The two are opening the show with a song called “Set the Stage,” which it turns out was composed by Darren, something he insisted on if he was going to be the host.
“I sort of cut my teeth as a songwriter and composer, and as a theater nerd, I’ve always wanted to write a song for the Tonys. So when they asked me to host this, I was like, ‘Alright, there’s a quid pro quo here. I’ll do it if you let me write the opening number.’ So Jules and I are doing a number called ‘Set the Stage’ and that will open the whole shebang,” said the actor.
He also joked that he is going to have to up his backstage game because Julianne’s pre-show dancing performances have been a big hit on social media. Julianne is currently starring in “POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive” and her videos of the cast dancing together before every performance are incredible.
“I love to have a ritual before I go on stage just so it puts me in that zone, connects me to that performance for every night. I love connection, so to be able to share the moment with all of our incredible cast members … It’s just fun. It just kind of became our thing. They always know at 7:30 I’m gonna be blasting music throughout the theater,” said Julianne.
She also said that she has always had a dream of performing on Broadway and she didn’t just want to drop in as a guest star, she wanted to do it full-time.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be on Broadway and I didn’t just want to do it like a bucket list, like I’m in, I’m out. I really wanted to immerse myself into the world, the community,” said the dancer.
She also said that she thinks “POTUS,” which is a political satire, is so fun and it’s just what the world needs right now.
“I think just where we’re at in the world today, having so much female empowerment surrounding something like politics that could feel very heavy and we do it in such a hilarious, outlandish way, I think is what we need right now … It’s really funny and I think that’s what we need right now.,” said Julianne, to which Darren added, “Lotta bada** ladies.”
The Tony Awards: Act One airs live on Paramount Plus on Sunday, June 12 beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific. The awards show then switches to CBS at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific; it is hosted by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose.
“Dancing With the Stars” returns for its 31st season in the fall of 2022 on Disney Plus.