The Tony Awards opened on Sunday night with a tribute to the lives lost during a mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub early Sunday morning.
“Good evening. All around the world, people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” read host James Corden, who recorded the remarks just before the ceremony began. “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.”
Corden added, his voice cracking with emotion, “All we can say is you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved. Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.”
The massacre happened at Pulse, a gay cub in Orlando. The assailant, who was later killed, entered the venue armed with an assault rifle and handgun. Fifty patrons were reported dead with 53 others wounded. The mass shooting is the deadliest in U.S. history.
Previously, the Tonys had dedicated the 2016 ceremony to the victims of the terror attack. “Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando,” the official Tony Awards Twitter account posted Sunday morning. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”
Just before the ceremony, the Tonys unveiled ribbons to honor those who lost their lives in the attack.