Kevin Spacey sang, danced and mimicked Bill Clinton at a Tony Awards ceremony where the policies of President Trump’s administration were taken to task.
Best actor winner Kevin Kline summed up the mood by saluting the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), which faces funding cuts under the Trump regime.
US talk show host Stephen Colbert also mocked Trump by suggesting his tenure as president “could close early”.
Dear Evan Hansen was named best musical at the New York ceremony.
The show, about a teenager who fabricates a former friendship with a classmate who killed himself, also saw Pitch Perfect star Ben Platt named best actor in a musical.
Bette Midler received the female equivalent for her role in Hello, Dolly! and celebrated her second Tony win with a lengthy acceptance speech.
“Shut that crap off!” the veteran comedienne snapped at one point when the orchestra tried to play her off the stage.
Other awards went to Laurie Metcalf for her role in a newly written sequel to A Doll’s House and to Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon for her supporting role in The Little Foxes.
Yet other big names, among them Danny DeVito, Cate Blanchett and singer Josh Groban, left New York’s Radio City Music Hall empty-handed.
Spacey opened proceedings with a musical number that climaxed with him tap dancing in top hat and tails.
He also appeared in character as House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, with his on-screen wife Robin Wright beside him.
Yet such comic flourishes went hand in hand with acceptance speeches that reflected America’s politically charged climate.
Nixon’s speech, in which she quoted directly from The Little Foxes playwright Lillian Hellman, was a case in point.
“Eighty years ago she wrote there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it, and other people who just stand around and watch them do it,” she told the audience.
“My love, my gratitude and my undying respect go out to all the people in 2017 who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it.”
Sunday’s ceremony took place shortly after news that Delta Air Lines and Bank of America had withdrawn financial support for a New York production of Julius Caesar.
The contemporary staging of Shakespeare’s play features an assassinated Caesar who resembles President Trump, a depiction Delta said had “crossed the line on the standards of good taste”.
Last year’s Tonys, hosted by Britain’s James Corden, were dominated by hip-hop musical Hamilton. which won 11 awards.