The 70th annual Tony Awards struck a more subdued tone than usual as Broadway’s biggest stars paid tribute to the victims of Sunday morning’s deadly terror attack in Orlando that claimed the lives of at least 50 people.
Host James Corden kicked off the show by addressing Sunday morning’s attack, which also left more than 50 people injured when a terrorist opened fire at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
“All around the world, people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” Corden, the host of The Late Late Show, said at the beginning of the ceremony. “On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity. All we can say is you’re not on your own right now.”
Tonys: James Corden Gives Somber Opening on Orlando Shooting https://t.co/vVdfltQoHb
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 13, 2016
“Your tragedy is our tragedy,” he added. “Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and celebration of that principle.”
While accepting the award for best original score, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda read aloud a sonnet he had composed for his wife that touched on the morning’s tragedy in Orlando.
“We chase the melodies that seem to find us, until they’re finished songs and start to play/When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day,” an emotional Miranda said. “This show is proof that history remembers we live through times when hate and fear seem stronger/We rise and fall and light from dying embers/Remembrances that hope and love last longer.”
“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside/I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story/Fill the world with music, love and pride,” he concluded.
When The Father star Frank Langella picked up the award for Best Leading Actor in a Play, he said he was foregoing the usual thank-you speech in favor of a “dose of true reality,” referring to Sunday morning’s attack.
“When something bad happens we have three choices,” Langella, who earned his fourth career Tony award, told the audience at the Beacon Theatre in New York. “We can let it define us, we can let it destroy us or we can let it strengthen us. Today in Orlando, we had a hideous dose of reality. I urge Orlando to be strong. I’m standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on earth and we will be with you every step of the way.”
The Tony Awards dedicated Sunday night’s ceremony to the victims of the Orlando attack in a statement before the show began. Attendees wore translucent ribbons that had been speedily designed by six-time Tony-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long and distributed prior to the show.
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) June 12, 2016
Meanwhile, the cast of Hamilton went without their usual prop muskets during their performance in deference to the Orlando terror victims.
Hamilton, which led all other productions with a record 16 nominations, won early and often Sunday night, picking up awards for Best Orchestration, Best Choreography, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Lighting Design, Best Costume Design, Best Featured Actress for Reneé Elise Goldsberry, Best Featured Actor for Daveed Diggs, Best Leading Actor for Leslie Odom Jr., Best Original Score for Miranda and Best Book of a Musical.
Hamilton also won the night’s biggest prize, for Best Musical.
View the rest of the winners from Broadway’s biggest night here, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum