Orlando shooting looms large over Tony Awards; Stars pay tribute

Sandy Kenyon Image
Monday, June 13, 2016
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Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has a look at the tributes to the victims in Orlando at the Tony Awards.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Tributes and vigils are being held around the world for the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre, and on Sunday night, the Tony Awards honored to the lives lost and the dozens who were injured.

There were several moments when actors brought attention to what we now know is the deadliest shooting in our nation's history.

"Hamilton" fell just one award shy of the Tony record held by "The Producers," but the musical still won 11 trophies and managed to make history on a night when those assembled had to balance joy with sorrow.

On a night when diversity was celebrated -- all of the acting awards in the musical categories went to African-Americans for the first time -- Broadway paused to remember those who died in Orlando.

"Love is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love and cannot be killed or swept aside," Lin-Manuel Miranda said during an emotional sonnet read during his acceptance for Best Score of a Musical.

The show began on a somber note, with a message from host James Corden.

"Hate will never win," he said.

Even before Corden took the stage at the Beacon Theatre, the silver ribbons on Tony's red carpet signaled the solidarity of the Broadway community with those affected by the tragedy.

"I urge you Orlando to be strong, because I'm standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on earth," Tony winner Frank Langella said. "And we will be with you every step of the way."

A song from the cast of "Hamilton" that usually calls for muskets was performed without guns in deference to the victims in Orlando, and lyrics from the show took on new meaning in light of what happened.

"History has its eyes on you," they sang, and for at least one night, they managed to tread the fine line between joy and sorrow.

"This is a celebratory event, a celebratory night, but this is also a deeply somber night," actress Judith Light said.

The effects of this tragedy were felt as far and wide, and in England, author J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to mourn the loss of a young man who worked at theme park attraction based on her "Harry Potter" books. Luis Vielma "was 22 years old, and I can't stop crying," she wrote.

The shooting was close to home for Christopher Fitzgerald, who was nominated for his role in "Waitress" and went to school in Orlando. "I'm heartbroken. I think everybody is feeling it, so we are at least all coming together to celebrate and not live in fear," he said on the carpet.