I’ve been resistant to Carpool Karaoke. I don’t know why, exactly, I like James Corden - it just seemed like the kind of viral thing you can ‘get’ without ever having to actually watch it. There were so many tweets and retweets and ‘ZOMG!’ that I felt like the pleasure of watching would be kind of diminished because of everyone telling me how much I had to love it. (I’ll just write Lainey’s insert bracket for her: [Lainey: YOU ARE A CONTRARIAN] There, done.) It just felt like false modesty, or worse, false candidness, which…is there anything more distasteful than pretending to be spontaneous?
But the Broadway edition of Carpool Karaoke, in advance of Sunday’s TONY Awards, which Corden is hosting, and which I am rabidly excited about, changed my mind, kind of. Watch:
If you said that the reason I feel differently about this one is because I’m a Broadway Stan, you’d be totally right. If you said it was because I was a Hamilton fanatic despite, at press time, still not having seen the show, you are also right. I love how much fun Corden is having, and I love that Guns & Ships proves there is no more badass fun-to-sing lyric than “LafaYETTE!”
But it was actually the group ‘ohhhhhh’ when the first chords of Seasons of Love come on that sold me. As Corden says, it’s ‘the most Broadway response’, but it’s also a universal theatre nerd response, proving that Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jane Krakowski would be utterly thrilled to harmonize while sitting on the dusty stage of your community theatre day camp.
Then like a bunch of theatre nerds, they belt it out like it belongs to them, because it does. Not one of them was ever in RENT on Broadway, but it doesn’t matter. Because they might be someday, just as you might be, or might have been—and that’s the whole point.
This is the magic that makes Broadway separate from all the other art forms. You can sing Hollaback Girl, but it’s really Gwen Stefani’s forever. You can sing along to Adele and the songs can, and do, speak to you—but it’s you, singing Adele’s songs, you know?
But the whole point of plays is that they are meant to be performed over and over again, by many different people. Soon Lin-Manuel Miranda will leave the show and someone else will play Alexander Hamilton, and someone else in the touring company, and many many someone elses when the show is performed at the school level someday. Ditto for the roles in Ragtime and Putnam and Starlight Express that have been associated with McDonald and Ferguson and Krakowski – they’re actors who originated the roles, but they never expected to be the only ones who played them. They always expected to share them with you, another theatre nerd, just belting out tunes in your car that you dream of singing ‘for real’ someday, and in that moment, you’re both equals, dreaming of the way you’d sing the song that was written for you, and for everyone.
The TONY Awards are Sunday night, and I will be squee-ing on Twitter and discussing them here the next day. You’re going to get emotional with me?
Attached - Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Jane Krakowski, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson at various events over the last couple of days.