And they did end with a display of ensemble members from every nominated musical.
When does the ceremony begin?
For most of the previous awards season, shows like the Oscars and Golden Globes have acknowledged the issue of sexual misconduct and abuse of power.
De Niro's comments brought the cheering crowd at Radio City Music Hall to its feet but were bleeped for US television audiences.
The Tony Awards telecast is typically the least watched of the annual entertainment industry trophy shows. Tony Shalhoub, named best actor in a musical, spoke of his father's arrival at Ellis Island from Lebanon in 1920. The show went on to win best musical revival, in an upset, beating "My Fair Lady" and "Carousel".
It was also a big night for the magically theatrical two-part drama "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", who won six awards including the best play.
Now running at the Lyric Theatre in NY, tickets were hard to come by even before the show was named Best Play at the Tonys.
Film stars including Denzel Washington, Amy Schumer and Michael Cera are just some of the big names in the acting categories.
Bruce Springsteen was presented a special Tony Award by Billy Joel for his hugely popular show "Springsteen on Broadway, " and Springsteen later performed.
So, who did take home all the Tonys? Cats and Evita composer Andrew Lloyd Webber will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
Garfield, who won his first Tony, plays a young gay man living with AIDS in the sprawling, seven-hour revival opposite Lane, who won his third. As well as Harry Potter star Jamie Parker, Sir Mark Rylance, Tom Hollander and British-American Andrew Garfield are all nominated alongside Washington.
Also slated to appear are Melissa Benoist, Erich Bergen, Rachel Bloom, Matt Bomer, Titus Burgess, Brandon Victor Dixon, Armie Hammer, Christopher Jackson, Katharine McPhee, Matthew Morrison, Leslie Odom Jr. But there were still plenty of musicals represented on-stage, and thanks to the musical talents of co-hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, there was still plenty of singing on stage Sunday night.
The SpongeBob SquarePants song featured some of the fun work of presenting Squidward with at least some of his multiple legs - plus it featured group tap dancing, which every Tonys broadcast should have - but it seemed not to quite pop off the stage the way they might have hoped.