AceShowbiz - Emotions ran high during the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, as stars took the stage to promote social change.
The 72nd ceremony, held at Radio City Musical Hall in New York, began on a comedic note with hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban performing a light-hearted medley. But the tone of the evening shifted as equality became the theme of the annual prizegiving.
Andrew Garfield picked up the first award of the night for Best Actor in a Play for his role in Angels in America. In an emotional speech, he shared that being part of the production, in which he plays a gay man with AIDS, was the "profound privilege of his life." He also dedicated the honour to "the countless LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people who have fought and died for the right to live and love as we are created to."
Another member of the show's cast, Nathan Lane, picked up the Best Featured Actor in a Play accolade. During his acceptance speech, he tearfully thanked his partner of 18 years, Devlin Elliott, and took note of the issues same-sex couples still face.
"I am standing here because Tony (Kushner) 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," he said as he choked up.
Angels in America, the show to receive the most nominations in the history of the awards, was also named Best Revival of a Play.
Meanwhile, The Band's Visit, about Egyptian musicians performing in Israel, picked up a string of honours - including Best Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Ari'el Stachel.
"Both of my parents are here tonight," Stachel said tearfully in a touching revelation. "I have avoided so many events with them for so many years of my life. I pretended that I was not a Middle-Eastern person. And 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."
In another standout moment, theatre veteran Patti LuPone shed a light on the importance of women being properly represented on stage.
"Artists must continue to find the courage to be society's moral compass," LuPone urged.
However, the portion of the night that moved the audience to tears was a dedication to Melody Herzfeld, a drama teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who sheltered 65 of her students as a shooter opened fire throughout the Florida school. The victims of the tragedy, known as the Parkland shooting, were given a tribute by the school's choir, who performed a rousing rendition of Seasons of Love from Rent. Released in 1994, the show famously promotes equality.
The full list of winners for the 2018 Tony Awards are: