The 2018 TONY® Awards

by Michael Mahany | 6/11/2018 5:14 PM

Hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban on the 2018 Tony® Award’s Red Carpet. Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX/Shutterstock


The 2018 TONY® Awards, which aired live on CBS Sunday night, certainly provided both the live audience at Radio City Music Hall and viewers at home a bright night of Broadway stars, exciting performances, and, of course, some surprises.


Here are the highlights:


The Hosts:


Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban proved to be both humorous and charming in their roles as the evening’s hosts. The opening number (written by Bareilles), their in-between banter, the personalized tribute performance to Lifetime Achievement TONY® winner’s Andrew Lloyd Webber and Chita Rivera, and the evening’s finale reminded everyone watching that both Bareilles and Groban are stars in their own right. Both have found success as studio recording artists, live singers and on Broadway.


Bareilles, who was also nominated Sunday night for her contribution to the score of Best Musical nominee SpongeBob SquarePants, was nominated in 2016 for her work writing the music to Broadway’s Waitress. She also recently finished a stint playing the leading role of Jenna in the musical. Groban was nominated for a 2017 TONY® for Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Musical for his work on Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet Of 1812.




TONY® winner Justin Peck and girlfriend Patricia Delgado on the Red Carpet. Photo Credit: Walter McBride/BroadwayWorld


New York City Ballet Soloist Justin Peck won his first TONY® Award for his choreography of the revival of Carousel. The revival, which ultimately lost out to Once On This Island for Best Revival Of A Musical, was Peck’s debut on the Great White Way. Actress Lindsay Mendez, who plays Carrie Pipperidge in the production, also won the TONY® for Best Performance By A Featured Actress In A Musical.


The live TONY® performance of Carousel was introduced by legendary ballet dancer and choreographer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. The production performed the number Blow High, Blow Low which not only featured Peck’s TONY® Award winning choreography, but also his New York City Ballet colleague, Amar Ramasar, who plays Jigger Craigin.


The Band’s Visit:


TONY® winners Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub, and the cast of The Band’s Visit on the 2018 TONY Awards


The biggest winner of the night was most definitely the cast, crew, and team from The Band’s Visit. The musical took home ten TONY® trophies, including Best Musical, Best Direction Of A Musical, Best Book Of A Musical, Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre, Best Performance By An Actor In A Featured Role and Leading Role In A Musical (for Ari'el Stachel and Tony Shalhoub, respectively), Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Musical (for Katrina Lenk), and a handful of design awards.


De Niro:


Robert De Niro at the 2018 TONY® Awards. Photo Credit: CBS


Academy Award® winning actor and co-director of the musical A Bronx Tale, Robert De Niro brought about the most controversial moment of the evening. After making his entrance to introduce the live performance by Special TONY® Award winning singer Bruce Springsteen, De Niro, off-prompter, addressed to the audience: “I’m just going to say one thing…F*** Trump!” After pausing a few seconds while the stunned audience responded with both applause and confusion, he said, “It’s no longer ‘down with Trump’, It’s ‘f*** Trump!’”


As a result, CBS dumped from the broadcast’s live audio for a few seconds, leaving many at home confused. Moments later, with social media sites ablaze, reporters scrambled to confirm what those inside the ceremony heard.


The Speeches:


A few standout acceptance speeches offered viewers at home a look into the personal struggles both actors of color and their families have dealt with through their careers.


Ari'el Stachel, who won the TONY® for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his work on The Band’s Visit attended the evening with both of his parents as his guests.


Ari’el Stachel’s accepts his TONY® Award for The Band’s Visit


“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 referring to his father and mother. After 9/11 it was very, very difficult for me. And so I concealed and I missed so many special events with them. And they’re looking at me right now and I can’t believe it.”


I am part of a cast of actors who never believed that they would be able to portray their own races and we are doing that, and not only that, we are getting messages from kids all over the Middle East thanking us and telling us how transformative our representation is for them,” Stachel continued. I want any kid who is watching to know that your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose. Thank you very much.”


Tony Shalhoub, who won the TONY for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, paid tribute to his father who emigrated to the States in the early part of the 20th century.


Tony Shalhoub recieving his 2018 TONY® for Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Musical


"I want to connect this moment to a moment that occurred nearly a century ago in 1920 when my father arrived on a boat from Lebanon and first set foot here on Ellis Island. He was then just a boy of 8. Disembarked on Ellis Island just a few short miles from this very spot. So tonight I celebrate him and all of those whose family journeyed before him and with him and after him.”


Lindsay Mendez, winner of the TONY® for Best Featured Actress in a Musical spoke about the advice she was given early in her career, regarding her name.


"I just want to say when I moved to New York, I was told to change my last name from ‘Mendez’ to ‘Matthews,’ or I wouldn't work,” Mendez said. "And I just want to say how proud I am to be part of a community that celebrates diversity and individuality. And to all of you artists out there, just be your true self and the world will take note.”


Lindsay Mendez accepting her TONY® for Carousel


Andrew Garfield, who earned a TONY® for Best Leading Actor In A Play, referenced the essence of his character in Angels In America and spoke about the rights and struggles of the LGBTQ community.


Andrew Garfield’s speech after receiving the TONY® for Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Play.


At a moment in time where maybe the most important thing that we remember right 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 is a spirit that says we are all made perfectly. And we all belong. So I dedicate this 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 added, We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked!”


The Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber Tribute:


Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Chita Rivera. Photo Credit: Michael Zorn/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock


The Theatre Wing prepared a video tribute to both Lifetime Achievement TONY® Award winners, Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The tribute video included highlights from both of the legendary theatre icon’s extraordinary careers.


Andrew Lloyd Webber is a four time TONY® Award winner, and Rivera, a legendary dancer, singer, and actress is a three time winning and ten time nominated TONY® recipient. In addition to her Lifetime Achievement TONY®, she won Best Actress In A Musical for both The Rink in 1984 and Kiss Of The Spider Woman in 1993. She is also the winner of the Kennedy Center Honor and received a Presidential Medal Of Freedom from President Barrack Obama in 2009.


The Students:


The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Theatre Department perform Seasons Of Love


The most remarkable and moving highlight from the evening by far was the performance of the theatre students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After teacher Melody Herzfeld was presented with the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award, theatre and television actor Matthew Morrison introduced the students from the school. The students performed Seasons Of Love from the musical Rent, live from the stage of Radio City Music Hall.


Want to re-watch the entire 2018 TONY® broadcast or see the performances, tributes and speeches you might have missed? CBS has got them online; check them out here.


Michael Mahany is a writer, host, and serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram    

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