'Excited' Josh Groban & Sara Bareilles Tease 'Incredible Performances' Before Hosting 2018 Tonys
Before they take the stage on Sunday to co-host the 2018 Tony Awards, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles sit down with PEOPLE to spill secrets on what viewers can expect
Though it’s the first time the two singer-songwriters, Broadway alums and longtime friends have emceed any awards show, both Groban and Bareilles have a history at the Tonys.
He was nominated for a best actor in a musical trophy last year for his turn in the acclaimed musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, while Bareilles earned a nod in 2016 for composing the music and lyrics to the hit musical Waitress.
So what they have planned now that they’re hosting? Read on!
PEOPLE: Are you excited for the show?
Bareilles: I’m counting the hours. I love this night of TV. The theater community really has the market cornered on triple-threat talent, so you know you’re going to see incredible performances. It’s going to be so much fun.
Groban: We’re both so excited. Growing up, the Tonys were the mecca of where we wanted to be professionally. I’ll never forget what it feels like to watch it and be inspired by it. Those performances, like seeing Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell do Ragtime, are cemented in my mind. And now to be a part of this community? Our child selves and our adult selves are high-fiving!
You’ve been friends for a long time. What’s your favorite thing about the other?
Bareilles: He is deeply kind, very intelligent and so incredibly funny. Sometimes he gets pigeon-holed as being a serious person because his art is serious, but he is an absolute riot!
Groban: She has such great intuition, beyond the fact that she’s just a remarkable human being. It’s nice when somebody is as humble as they are obscenely talented. It’s also annoying. Get an ego! Just be a diva, already!
Will we hear you two sing?
Bareilles: It’s safe to say we will be singing at one point or another. It would be weird if we didn’t!
You’ve both been to many award shows. What do you look for in a host?
Bareilles: What I love in a host is someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, keeps the eye on the prize and really enjoys themselves. We get to really just celebrate this community. It’s really about Broadway and these wonderful people who come together and work their butts off eight times a week.
Groban: If you’re nominated, there’s always that tension and nervousness, whether anybody shows it or not. So I think the job of the host is to take away the tension in the room. Let everyone breathe a sigh of relief that this is going to be a fun night. And take the wind out of the sails of all the demons in the room. Make them wait outside.
- Have any previous Tony hosts reached out?
- Bareilles: James Corden has been really, really lovely. He and Josh actually connected. Everyone who has done it has really enjoyed it.
- Groban: The important thing that’s been told to us is not to put a square peg into a round hole by trying to be somebody else. Sara and I have a very specific chemistry and a very good energy that’s all our own. If we focus on harnessing that and not trying to live up to the hosts of the past or be bogged down by certain things that worked or didn’t work, then we’re on the right path at least. Win or lose, we will have stayed true to who we are.
Sara, you’re Tony-nominated again this year for the song you contributed to SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.
Bareilles: I am! It’s so out of box. It was such an interesting concept to bring to SpongeBob — to really cast the net wide in terms of who was supplying the music. I went and saw the show and the show is delightful. It is so sweet and theatrical and has all this heart. It’s just a feast for the eyes.
How many costume changes will you both have?
Bareilles: I’m not like, a super fashionista. I just want to be comfortable and have fun and not get bogged down with anything like that. But I mean, it’s the Tonys. I’m going to change my dress once or twice, like, come on!
Groban: Sara will no doubt have some incredible gowns throughout the course of the night. I won’t be too shabby, but how many penguin suits can you really change over the course of the evening?
Well, there’s the fat suit you wore last year in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Josh…
Groban: [Laughs] That fat suit was burned in a bonfire surrounded by dancing children. It was a glorious experience on a cold winter’s night and it kept the whole village warm for days. [Laughs] You know, I miss Pierre so much, but I don’t know where that thing is. I’ve been told it’s dangling on some hook somewhere in some Broadway warehouse, but I’m thinking that thing should be incinerated.
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Finally, what has it meant for you to be part of the Broadway community over the past few years?
Bareilles: It’s been a return to myself in some ways. I grew up almost exclusively listening to musical theater albums. I always imagined myself on a theater stage, and then when my music career started to develop, I turned this beautiful left turn. But I was ready to return to theater, and it’s just changed everything about my life. From the very get-go, there’s been the warmest reception with nothing but love and support from other writers, actors, directors. I have a lot of love for my music colleagues in the music world, but I have never experienced a more supportive artistic setting than the theater community. I don’t think there’s anything like it in the world.
Groban: These are some of the closest friends that I’ll have in my life. The music business is a community, of course. But especially if you’re a solo artist, you feel like you’re in your own bubble a lot. A place like the Grammys, it’s like a lot of bubble bouncing off of each other. Whereas the Tonys, everyone’s in the same bubble no matter what. There’s a camaraderie, stemming from the fact that it’s just so f—ing hard. You rely on your cast to get you through it. You literally can’t do it without the other person next to you. It really is a family that sticks up for each other and stands up for each other.
The 72nd annual Tony Awards air live Sunday from Radio City Music Hall (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.