Tonys: Robert De Niro's Message to Trump and 9 More Memorable Moments

9:21 PM 6/10/2018

by Allison Crist

Amy Schumer roasted 'My Fair Lady,' the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department performed a 'Rent' classic and other highlights from Sunday's show.

Broadway's biggest stars gathered at New York's Radio City Music Hall for Sunday night's Tony Awards to celebrate the best in the business, and in the process, there were a number of standout performances, acceptance speeches, one-liners and appearances. Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban co-hosted the 72nd annual awards show, which ended up honoring everyone from Laurie Metcalf to Bruce Springsteen — hanging big contenders such as Mean Girls out to dry.

Among the night's most noteworthy moments were Robert De Niro boldly delivering a "F— you" to President Trump, Amy Schumer roasting My Fair Lady and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department performing a Rent classic. Read more about the night's most memorable moments below. 

  • Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban's Opening Performance

    What began as a dueling pianos performance between this year's hosts, Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, turned into a dedication to every nominee that would be leaving the show empty-handed.

    The duo could apparently relate, too. "We are your hosts / And we're perfectly suited to be / Because did you know / Neither one of us has never won anything," they sang in unison. 

    Groban quickly interrupted the song, asking Bareilles, "That can't be right, Sara, no Grammys for you?"

    "No, nothing, nothing," Bareilles replied.

    "Well you know, it is what it is," Groban said.

    Despite never winning, both hosts have earned Grammy and Tony nominations. 

    The song — repeatedly declaring, "This is for the people who lose! — continued, and the two were eventually joined by ensemble members from all of the night's nominated shows. 

  • Andrew Garfield's Award Dedication to LGBTQ Community

    After beating out Denzel Washington, Tom Hollander, Mark Rylance and Jamie Parker for the Tony for best actor in a play, Andrew Garfield used his acceptance speech to call out discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. 

    "At a moment in time where maybe the most important thing that we remember now is the sanctity of the human spirit, it is the profound privilege of my life to play Prior Walter in Angels in America because he represents the purest spirit of humanity and especially that of the LGBTQ community," Garfield said. "It is a spirit that says no to oppression. It is a spirit that says no to bigotry. No to shame. No to exclusion. It’s a spirit that says we are all made perfectly and we all belong."

    He continued, dedicating the award to the "countless LGBTQ people who have fought and died to protect that spirit. To protect that message for the right to live and love as we are created to."

    Garfield ended the speech by referencing the Supreme Court ruling that sided with a Colorado bakery in its denial of service to a customer attempting to order a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding: "Let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked!"

  • Amy Schumer's Presentation of 'My Fair Lady'

    Amy Schumer introduced a performance by the cast of My Fair Lady, but not without explaining her take on the recently revived musical — and, more specifically, the character of Henry Higgins. 

    "The first nominee for best revival of a musical is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, a comedy about class and sexism," Schumer said, garnering laughs from the audience. "It tells the story of a scrumpy flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, who is transformed by Henry Higgins, a mansplaining expert on dialects." 

    Shumer said that this interpretation celebrates Eliza's "growing self-confidence" and highlights "equal rights for women," adding "'Cause we actually don't have that!" 

  • "I'm Not a Loser" by the 'SpongeBob SquarePants' Cast

    SpongeBob SquarePants has been the talk of the Tony pundits ever since the musical adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon show scored a whopping 12 nominations. Though the show didn't take home many awards, Radio City Music Hall was abuzz during the cast's performance of "I'm Not a Loser." 

    Ethan Slater (who plays SpongeBob Squarepants) kicked off the performance by interrupting co-hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, but the real star of the show was Squidward, played by Gavin Lee. He not only sang, but tap danced — with four legs (or tentacles) nonetheless — too.

  • Nathan Lane's Emotional Acceptance Speech

    Nathan Lane took home the award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play. It was his work in Angels in America that scored him his third Tony win, and he relayed his thanks to all of his colleagues — namely, playwright Tony Kushner. 

    "Even his emails are Pulitzer-worthy," Lane said. "I'm standing here because Tony wrote one of the greatest plays of the 20th century and it is still speaking to us as powerfully as ever in the midst of such political insanity."

    Lane began choking up after also thanking his husband, Devlin Elliott, and talking about what it took for him to get where he is now. 

    "About eight years ago, I decided I need to shake things up. I needed to scare myself again and challenge myself more, because I felt I had more to offer as an actor," Lane said. "This performance has been the culmination of a lot of that work, and this award is a lovely vote of confidence that I've been on the right path."

  • Ari'el Stachel's Story About His Parents and Accepting His Identity

    While accepting the Tony for best performance in a featured role in a musical for The Band's Visit — which marked Ari'el Stachel's Broadway debut — Stachel teared up at the thought of his parents in the audience. 

    "Both of my parents are here tonight, and I have avoided so many events with them, because for so many years of my life, I pretended that I was not a Middle Eastern person," Stachel said. "And after 9/11, it was very, very difficult for me."

    As a result, Stachel said that he concealed his identity and missed a number of special events with his parents. 

    He thanked the producers of the show, especially since The Band's Visit tells "a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along at a time when we need that more than ever," Stachel said.

    "I am part of a cast of actors that who never believed that they'd be able to portray their own races, and we are doing that," he added. "And not only thtat, we're getting messages from kids all over the Middle East thanking us and telling us how transformative our representation is for them."

  • The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Drama Department's "Seasons of Love" Performance

    Students from the Florida high school where 17 were killed in a February shooting took the Tonys stage, following the presentation of the 2018 excellence in theater education award to one of their teachers. Ming-Na Wen awarded Melody Herzfeld the award, noting her bravery during the shooting when Herzfeld "sheltered 65 of her students in a small office for two hours until help arrived and led all of them to safety."

    Matthew Morrison introduced the performance by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department, even citing his position as a "former teacher" on Glee to thank Herzfeld. Morrison then explained that after a benefit concert for the school, student Tanzil Phillip asked if he and his classmates could attend the Tonys to thank the Broadway community. 

    “Rather than inviting you onto this stage to say thanks to us, our Broadway family wants to give and say thanks to you by sharing the stage with you and your classmates," Morrison said. 

    The group of teenagers received a standing ovation — with many members of the audience in tears — for their performance of "Seasons of Love."

  • John Tiffany's 'Happy Birthday' Sing-Along

    John Tiffany took home his second directing Tony Award — this time, for his work on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He used his acceptance speech to not only thank people like the show's choreographer, Steven Hoggett, but also to get the crowd to sing. 

    "One more thing before I leave," Tiffany said. "It's my boyfriend's birthday today, David Knock. Would you all join me in singing a little song to him?"

    The audience obliged, and Tiffany led everyone in a sing-along of "Happy Birthday."

  • Robert De Niro's Bruce Springsteen Introduction

    Those at home probably didn't catch Robert De Niro's choice words for President Trump, but as soon as he took the stage to introduce Bruce Springsteen, he blatantly said, "Fuck Trump," not only once, but twice. The statements were bleeped from the telecast, and luckily for CBS' censors, De Niro quickly moved on.

    "Bruce, you can rock the house like nobody else and that's important during these perilous times. You rock the vote, always fighting for, in your own words, truth, transparency and integrity of the government," De Niro said. "Boy, do we need that now. So congratulations for your Tony for Springsteen on Broadway, or as I like to call it, 'Jersey Boy.'"

    Springsteen on Broadway scored the musician a Special Tony Award earlier that night. He made a rare television appearance to not only accept it, but perform a monologue from the sold-out Broadway show. 

  • 'Harry Potter' and 'The Band's Visit' Won Big

    Despite SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls leading in nominations at this year's Tonys, it was actually Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and The Band's Visit that took home the most awards. 

    The Band's Visit, a a musical based on a 2007 Israeli movie of the same name, scored 10 trophies. The awards included best musical, best leading actress, best leading actor, best score, best direction, best sound design, best featured actor, best lighting, best book and best orchestrations. 

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child earned six, with Tonys for best play, book, sound design, lighting, costume design and direction for John Tiffany.