Pop Culture

Neil Patrick Harris and James Corden duel in ultimate musical 'riff-off'

When two titans face off to determine a champion, things can get ugly. Or they can get ... musical?

That's what happened (the musical part, anyway) Monday night when Neil Patrick Harris challenged James Corden to a throw-down of Broadway tunes and Corden took up the gauntlet.

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Harris started it, walking out on Corden's "Late Late Show" stage full of swagger. "Your silly jokes can wait, Corden," he said. "We have a score to settle, and it's about Broadway. I see you going around hosting the Tonys, acting like you're the only TV star who can sing Broadway show tunes. Some of us, dude, have actually won a Tony."

Corden reminded him that he has in fact won a Tony of his own.

"Yeah, for a non-singing role," sneered Harris. "Burn."

Terence Patrick / CBS
Neil Patrick Harris met his match in James Corden on Monday.

Well, that's all Corden needed — that, and the L.A.-based a cappella group Filharmonic to step out and provide backing vocals. Fortunately, they just happen to be present.

So like Alexander Hamilton stepping out to receive Aaron Burr's duel challenge, Corden faced off with Harris.

The results? Sheer magic!

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The pair rolled through classics from "Gypsy" and "Guys and Dolls," heartbreaking ballads from "Company" and "Les Miz," and sexytimes with tunes from "Chicago" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (that's the musical that won Harris his Tony).

Terence Patrick / CBS
They are not throwing away their shot!

Corden admitted defeat, but Harris was suddenly conciliatory. "You can't throw in the towel," he insisted. "You can't throw away your ... shot!"

And like Hamilton and Burr never did (but probably should have), the pair launched into an amazing shared performance of "Hamilton's" "My Shot" that had the audience roaring.

Epic Broadway! Who knew?

Follow Randee Dawn on Twitter.

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