The 2018 Tony Awards took a break from rewarding excellence in theater to honor the students in the theater department of Parkland, Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School, who survived a tragic mass shooting earlier this year.
The recognition began with a special award being bestowed to Melody Herzfeld, the longtime Stoneman Douglas drama teacher who helped save dozens of students by keeping them safe in an office. “All the goodness and tragedy that has brought me to this point will never be erased,” she said when she accepted the award.
Later on the telecast, Matthew Morrison (Glee) took to the stage to sing the praises of the school’s drama department, and specifically their ability to channel their “anger” and “pain” into art. The actor then invited the students on stage as a way of saying thanks, before the curtain lifted, revealing the Stoneman Douglas company.
What followed was a profoundly stirring rendition of the iconic Rent song “Seasons of Love,” with a few students showing off some seriously impressive musical chops. Viewers moved by the performance quickly expressed their emotions on Twitter, and we were right there with them.