Another year, another unforgettable Tony Awards—and the 72nd annual ceremony had plenty of notable moments, from the impactful, to the hilarious, to the downright iconic. We take a look at seven of the evening's most memorable moments.
Shoutouts to Diversity
A number of this year's winners used their speeches to bring attention to causes dear to their hearts. Among them were were actors Lindsay Mendez and Ari'el Stachel, who specifically called out the importance of diversity on Broadway. An emotional Mendez, who won for her performance in Carousel, exclaimed gratitude at being part of a community that celebrates diversity. She told the crowd how early in her career, she’d been encouraged to change her last name to Matthews to better her chances of playing non-minority roles. "Just because you’re a minority doesn’t mean you’re only meant to play roles that are a minority," Mendez later told the press room, expanding on her speech.
The Band's Visit's Stachel pointed out his parents in the audience and opened up about how he had hidden his Middle Eastern background growing up. “I’m just so thankful to Orin Wolf for being courageous for telling a small story about Arabs and Israelis getting along in a time when we need that more than ever. I am part of a cast of actors who never believed they’d be able to do that.” He finished by saying: “Your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.”
The Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Sing "Seasons of Love"
In recognition of their teacher Melody Herzfeld, who was presented with the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award for her bravery during the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida—and her strength to find resilience through art, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department took to the stage to sing "Seasons of Love" from Rent. The young performers received a standing ovation.
An Angelic Cameo
As with most awards shows, winners only have a certain amount of time in which to deliver their thank-you speeches. For this year’s Tony Awards, the magic number was 90 seconds, and early in the broadcast, hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban offered a very specific threat to winners who exceed their time limit: a visit from Angels in America’s Angel. Beth Malone, in costume as the creepy winged harbinger of “The Great Work,” made a hilarious stage appearance at Radio City Music Hall—wing puppeteers and all.
A Medley of Two Greats
In recognition of Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber both winning Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement, the Tony Awards played a montage in tribute to the two theatre greats, with hosts Groban and Bareilles both singing songs to accompany.
On social media, #TonyDreaming was the place to be as Bareilles and Groban made the call for photos from viewers’ own stage appearances, many of which were shown during the telecast. In addition to viewer submissions, many presenters had photos featured on stage from their own childhood theatre performances, including Bareilles’ performance as Fern in Charlotte’s Web at the age of 14, Groban’s Mr. Mistoffelees from a backyard production of Cats, and Uzo Aduba’s high school production of Pippin.
Upon becoming the 2018 Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s John Tiffany thanked Potter scribe J.K. Rowling and choreographer Steven Hoggett before asking the Tony Awards audience for a personal favor. The ceremony fell on the birthday of Tiffany’s boyfriend David, and the Tony-winning director had the entire audience sing him "Happy Birthday."
And Happy Birthday to an Icon
After reminding the audience of the importance of the upcoming midterm elections, playwright Tony Kushner wrapped up his speech (during Angels in a America's win for Best Revival of a Play) by wishing the late Judy Garland a happy birthday. "And what kind of homosexual would I be if I didn’t say, 'It’s June 10; happy birthday Judy Garland,'" said Kushner before exiting the stage with his trophy.
Follow all the action from the 2018 Tony Awards press room here.