Entertainment

The Most Outrageous Moments From the 2018 Tony Awards

robert de niro, tony awards 2018
Robert De Niro | Getty Images
Robert De Niro | Getty Images

Just like The Band's Visit, the musical that ended up being the big winner, the 2018 Tony Awards ceremony was a low-key affair with some incredibly striking moments. The highlights ranged from the utterly silly -- cue up the GIFs of Nathan Lane goofing around with a goat -- to the genuinely moving, such as the surprise performance by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The Band's Visit earned 10 awards, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child whisked away six, including best play. Actors who went home with shiny trophies included Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane, both for Angels in America, and Laurie Metcalf, for Three Tall Women. If you didn't end up watching -- or just want to relive some the best moments -- here's a recap.

Losers opened the show

The Tonys enlisted Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles -- interlopers from the world of pop who have both had Broadway successes, the former as the star of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and the latter with Waitress, which she wrote -- as co-hosts this year, and the two leaned hard into their theater geekdom throughout the evening. They opened with a sweetly earnest, tongue-in-cheek number that pre-emptively honored the losers. "So this is for the people who lose, because both of us have been in your shoes," they harmonized. Their dueling pianos gave way to a chorus of ensemble members from the nominated shows, as Bareilles and Groban segued into a message that "if you make art at all you're a part of the cure."

Stars revealed hilariously embarrassing old photos

As part of their "everyone here is an unabashed theater kid" schtick, Groban and Bareilles had presenters pull out photos of their earliest performances. So essentially the show was an endless parade of throwback pictures from the likes of Patti LuPone, Melissa Benoist, and Tituss Burgess. (Online fans were encouraged to post their own with the hashtag #TonyDreaming.)

Squidward got his chance to shine

For the number from SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, our gleeful, porous friend Spongebob yielded the stage to his grumpy pal Squidward Q. Tentacles. Turns out that if you put a pair of tap shoes on him -- well, two pairs of tap shoes given his four appendages -- Squidward is actually delightful company. For those that haven't been initiated to the SpongeBob fandom yet, what all this means is that actor Gavin Lee sang and danced his way through the song "I'm Not a Loser" written by They Might Be Giants as a sea creature finally getting his due.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sang


The best moment of the night came during a tribute to Melody Herzfeld, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher who helped shield 65 students in her classroom during the shooting that killed 17 people earlier this year. After she received the Excellence in Theater Education Award, students from Parkland, Florida, launched into a rendition of "Seasons of Love" from Rent. In a night that continually emphasized the importance of live theater -- whether on Broadway or in smaller communities -- this was truly proof of its power.

Rachel Bloom's rowdy interstitials

The star and creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Rachel Bloom unfortunately isn't famous enough to get offered hosting duties yet. Evidence? Neil Patrick Harris was, um, confused when she appeared on screen (although Bloom did issue the perfect comeback, informing him that they've met many times). However, Bloom's brief screen time during her backstage bits indicated that she deserves the opportunity to emcee one day. She spent her time pretending not to know who Amy Schumer is, making bawdy jokes next to a bunch of cast members from Frozen, and riffing about therapy with John Leguizamo.

Nathan Lane did not want to interact with a goat

During a wonderful performance from the winner of Best Revival of a Musical Once on This Island the cast members brought out some of the show's non-human performers: Two goats, one of which was stationed amid the audience, right next to Nathan Lane, fresh off a victory for his work in Angels in America. Lane, however, wanted to keep his distance, yielding a perfect reaction shot. Hopefully, the red carpet attention for the goat named Sparky will make up for that brutal diss.  

Robert De Niro cursed Trump

Robert De Niro was on hand to introduce a performance from Bruce Springsteen, who earlier in the night had received a special Tony Award from Billy Joel. (Are you paying attention, dads?) But before he got around to that, Bobby had something to say. Not that people watching at home could hear him. De Niro said "Fuck Trump" twice and was met with a standing ovation, but the quick fingers of CBS censors ensured viewers at home heard none of that.

The Band's Visit cleaned up

If you need more reason to get yourself to see the musical we named the top show to see on Broadway right now, here's some: The Band's Visit, about a group of Egyptians stranded for a night in a small town in Israel, won just about everything it could. At the end of the telecast, it was crowned the best musical. Katrina Lenk, who made us weak in the knees singing the plaintive ode "Omar Sharif," was the best leading actress in a musical. Co-star Tony Shalhoub got the male equivalent of that prize. And in three hours filled with lovely speeches, Ari'el Stachel, who won featured actor for his supporting role, gave what was perhaps the loveliest discussing his embrace of his Middle Eastern heritage. Here it is in full:

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior staff writer at Thrillist.