Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles’ opening number
Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were delightful Tony hosts, kicking the night off with dueling pianos — a signature instrument for both artists — and dedicating the show to “the people who lose.” But their best moment came with a performance of “8 Shows a Week,” featuring lyrics set to the tune of Sia’s “Chandelier.” The song poked fun at the brutal Broadway performance schedule that leaves performers without a weekend and often requires vocal rest. It had both Groban and Bareilles jokingly asking, “Why the hell is this eight times a week?”
Squidward's tap dance
There are likely still those who raise their eyebrows at the notion of a Broadway musical about SpongeBob Squarepants, but this second act tap number is the strongest argument for why the show is a pure delight. And Tony viewers got to see this for themselves when Gavin Lee (as Squidward) tap danced (with four legs!) while backed up by an ensemble of sea anemones culminating in a good old-fashioned kickline of the highest order.
Angels in America hits the Tony heavens
The highly acclaimed revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America got lots of love Sunday evening, including gold for Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, and Best Revival of a Play. The play also provided one of the best comedic bits for the evening, with the joke that the play’s titular angel would chase winners offstage in lieu of being played off. The inherently political play provoked many political statements from its winners. Garfield, who won for his performance as Prior, made a plea for equality and empathy, stating, “We are all sacred and we all belong so let’s just all bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked.” Nathan Lane offered up an emotional speech for his win for his portrayal of Roy Cohn, noting, “I’m standing here because Tony [Kushner] wrote one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, and it’s still speaking to us as strongly as ever.” Kushner also took the stage as part of the group to accept best revival and called out three dates — July 15, when Angels closes on Broadway; November 6, the midterm elections; and today, June 10 — Judy Garland’s birthday.
Parkland teens sing ‘Seasons of Love’
The Broadway community has consistently been there to support the brave teens of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt performed the “Found/Tonight” mash-up at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Tonight, the students of Parkland returned the favor, appearing on the Tony awards to sing a stirring rendition of Rent’s “Seasons of Love” in a surprise performance. Their drama teacher Melody Herzfeld was the recipient of this year’s Excellence in Theatre Education award, and the students sang the song in tribute to their teacher and the students whose lives were lost in the shooting. Bonus points for Matthew Morrison’s little nod to Glee while introducing the performance “as a former teacher.”
Harry Potter magic
It costs a bucketful of Galleons (and a heap of patience) to get the chance to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but viewers got a glimpse of the magical theatrics in a bit where host Josh Groban (after joking about his own interest in magic as a kid) transformed into Jamie Parker, the actor who portrays the grown-up Harry Potter in the play.
Robert De Niro gets bleeped
While introducing a performance from Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro was censored for several seconds during the broadcast. Those inside the house tweeted that De Niro said, “I’m going to say this — F–K TRUMP. It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s F–K TRUMP.’” De Niro has been outspoken against Trump and his administration, regularly calling them out and even playing investigator Robert Mueller in cameos on Saturday Night Live. The moment made such a stir that after the commercial break, hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles appeared onscreen dressed as each other’s characters in Waitress and The Great Comet joking that De Niro left the network begging them to do something “drastic.”
Springsteen takes the audience to 'My Hometown'
The Boss celebrated his Special Tony Award and his record-breaking show Springsteen on Broadway with a special performance. As in his one-man show, he performed alone with a single piano and a stark stage, delivering “My Hometown” after offering up a snippet of his monologue from the show describing life growing up in Freehold, New Jersey. “There was a place here, you could hear it, you could smell it,” he said. “A place where people made lives, where they danced, enjoyed small pleasures, where they played baseball, where they suffered pain and had their hearts broken.” Springsteen proved once again that he can hold the rapt attention of an audience just as well with sterling storytelling and spare vocals as he can with an entire rock band.
Revivals kick up their heels
The most stirring musical performances of the evening came courtesy of the three nominated revivals. My Fair Lady offered pieces of three songs, beginning with “The Rain in Spain” and “I Could Have Danced All Night” and concluding with a raucous round of “Get Me to the Church on Time” featuring a boisterous, enthusiastic Norbert Leo Butz looking like he was having the time of his life. Carousel surprised everyone selecting “Blow High, Blow Low,” a superb showcase for both star Joshua Henry’s vocals and the Tony-winning choreography of Justin Peck. Lastly, Once on This Island brought their sandy beach ashore into Radio City Music Hall and had Alex Newell bring down the house on “Mama Will Provide” opposite Broadway newcomer Hailey Kilgore.
The Andrew Lloyd Weber and Chita Rivera medley
Broadway legends Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber were the recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards this year. Inexplicably, CBS chose not to play their speeches in full, but the two did receive a dual tribute in the form of a medley arranged by Hamilton’s orchestrations maestro Alex Lacamoire. Hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles sang snippets of the two greats’ most memorable songs, including “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” from the musical of the same name, Phantom of the Opera’s “All I Ask of You,” and Chicago’s “All That Jazz.” A montage of Webber and Rivera’s work played in the background.
Glenda Jackson wins!
The fifth time was the charm for British acting legend Glenda Jackson. The 82-year-old won Lead Actress in a Play for her formidable performance in a revival of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. Jackson paid tribute to the Parkland high school students who performed on the show, and even called out her age. The former member of British Parliament also spoke to the “welcoming” nature of the global population in NYC and the country at large, defiantly stating, “America is always great.”
Ari'el Stachel's emotional acceptance speech
Perhaps the most surprising acting winner of the night, Ari’el Stachel (Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical) put The Band’s Visit’s political significance into searing perspective. “For so many years of my life, I pretended I wasn’t a Middle Eastern person,” he admitted, with tears in his eyes. “I am part of a cast of actors who never believed they would portray their own races. I want any kid who’s watching to know your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.”
Lindsay Mendez celebrates diversity
The only musical actor to win a Tony who wasn’t in The Band’s Visit, Carousel standout Lindsay Mendez made her moment count in a rousing, deeply emotional speech about the power of diversity and inclusion. “I was told to change my name from Mendez to Matthews or I wouldn’t work,” said the Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical winner. “But I want to say how proud I am to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity.” In addition to her speech’s poignant sentiment, Mendez displayed the infectious charm that keeps Broadway audiences falling in love with her.
Tony Shaloub pays tribute to his immigrant father
After joking, “it’s late and I know you’re all tired, so I’m going to make this as long as I possibly can,” Shaloub, who won Best Leading Actor in a Musical for The Band’s Visit, shared a story of his father coming to America. “I want to connect this moment to a moment that occurred nearly a century ago, 1920, when my father arrived on a boat from Lebanon and set foot on Ellis island. He was then just a boy of 8”, he said. “Tonight I celebrate him and all those in his family who journeyed before him and with him and after him, and I feel this extremely generous gesture of yours honors not only their aspirations, their courage, their resourceful and their creativity and their selflessness…May we their descendants never lose sight of what they taught us.”