Veteran actress Chita Rivera and British musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber received lifetime achievement awards, while actor, writer and comedian John Leguizamo was given a special Tony for his one-man show, "Latin History for Morons".
Legendary actress Jackson, 82, meanwhile is virtually sure to win her first Tony for her star turn in Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women". They were amiable and game, opening with a amusing and chill little pop song about losing at the Tonys (which they both have done). While "The Band's Visit" is based on a film, it came to the stage far less known - and presold - than the other contenders, "Mean Girls", "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical" and "Frozen".
Garfield won best actor in a play for his acclaimed performance in "Angels in America", which also won Nathan Lane his third Tony, as closeted conservative lawyer Roy Cohn, who died of AIDS. He said one moment will be dedicated to the movement but details remained "top secret".
Ari'el Stachel, accepting for his featured performance in The Band's Visit, fought back tears explaining that he hid his Middle Eastern identity following September 11, encouraging people to embrace who they are: "Your biggest obstacle may be your greatest objective". More from the Highlight at the backstage of Tony Awards 2018 will be soon updated. But as it happened, the Tonys had a natural connection to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.
A heroic drama teacher who nurtured numerous young people demanding change following the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has been honored from the Tony Award stage.
Salonga was on her fourth time at the prestigious awards show, having been, in the past, an opening performer, and a top victor. It could have been something from Hamilton, yes.
This has always been the secret ingredient of the Tony Awards: They embrace their kids.
Stachel's message back? "I want any kid who's watching to know that your biggest obstacle may turn into your goal".
So, who did take home all the Tonys? "I can't wait to see our cast perform. And for those of us who are fortunate enough not to be suffering so deeply, let's make sure we answer them". "F*** Trump"," he said, which garnered him a sustained standing ovation from the crowd. On this night, it showed.