Before introducing Bruce Springsteen's performance at the Tony Awards, actor Robert De Niro walked onstage at Radio City Hall, announcing, "First, I wanna say, 'F**k Trump.' It's no longer 'Down with Trump,' it's 'F**k Trump.'"
His remarks were entirely bleeped out by CBS, however, the censors Down Under let it go:
— Rhett Bartlett (@dialmformovies) June 11, 2018
The NY Times said De Niro's remarks, which occurred just after 10:35 p.m., "broke through what felt like an orchestrated attempt to avoid controversy, using Mr. Trump’s name three times in a short, obscene salvo that brought the Radio City Music Hall audience roaring to its feet. But CBS’s censors, with the benefit of a 10-second delay, made sure the television audience didn’t hear it. In the shadow of fraying international alliances and pitched political and culture wars at home, the show as a whole offered hopefulness, nostalgia, self-deprecation and modest emotional catharsis — a three-hour vacation from what Nathan Lane called, in passing, the 'political insanity' of the present moment."
Speaking of emotional catharsis, Springsteen—who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tonys for Springsteen on Broadway—performed an excerpt of his critically-acclaimed, extremely popular show, which included an abridged version of "My Hometown":
The emotional high point of the evening was when high school students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama club performed "Seasons of Love" from Rent:
The students received a standing ovation; the club's teacher, Melody Herzfeld, who had shielded dozens of students on the day of the shooting, was given the Excellence in Theatre Education Award (see her speech here).
Others mentioned their heritage and their respect for others during their airtime: Presenter John Leguizamo said, "I am a human, not an animal," referencing President Trump's racist rhetoric. "Thousands upon thousands of Latin people showed up and paid unreasonable prices to see themselves reflected back and see someone like themselves talking about them to them. My hope is one day our stories won’t be the exception, but the rule."
LIndsay Mendez, who won the Tony for best featured actresses in a musical for Carousel, said in her acceptance speech, "When I moved to New York, I was told to change my last name from Mendez to Matthews or I wouldn’t work. And I just want to say how proud I am to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity and individuality... To all of you artists out there, just be your true self and the world will take note.”
After winning best featured actor in a musical for The Band's Visit (which is about Israelis and Arabs getting along), Ar'iel Stachel emotionally paid tribute to his parents who were in the audience, "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. 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."
Andrew Garfield, accepting his Tony for best lead actor in a play for Angels In America, said, "It is a spirit that says we are all made perfectly. And we all belong. So I dedicate this award to the countless L.G.B.T.Q. 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," and ended his speech by saying, "We are all sacred and we all belong, so let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked!"
Angels playwright Tony Kushner also took the stage when the play was given the Tony for best revival. He mentioned three dates: July 15, when the play's run ends; November 6, the date of the midterm elections ("21 weeks to save our democracy"); and June 10, "What kind of homosexual would I be if I didn’t say it’s June 10: Happy birthday, Judy Garland!"