The Tonys were officially dedicated to those affected by the Orlando shooting, beginning the broadcast with a message of support and grief. Many guests and performers also wore white ribbons in a show of solidarity, including presenter James Corden.
Nominated for a record 16 awards, hit musical Hamilton was the obvious star of the evening. As Corden joked in his opening monologue, “I promise you that tonight’s show will not all be about Hamilton. There will also be some commercial breaks.” Naturally, he was introduced with a Hamilton parody performance, starring the show’s cast.
Meanwhile the Tony Awards’ opening number was a wider celebration of Broadway achievements, featuring a huge cast of stars from various shows.
Hamilton wound up taking home 11 awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, and acting awards for Renée Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs, and Leslie Odom Jr. The cast’s ensemble performance included one of the most moving moments of the evening, as the cast decided against using guns onstage. Towards the end of the performance, they posed in silence, empty-handed.
Frank Langella, who won the Tony for best lead actor in a play, was one of the many guests to pay tribute to the Orlando shooting victims in his speech. “When something bad happens we have three choices,” he said. “We let it define us, we let it destroy us or we let it strengthen us… Today, in Orlando, we had a hideous dose of reality. And I urge you, Orlando, to be strong.”
Saying that he was now too old to freestyle (as he did when he won a Tony for In The Heights in 2008), an increasingly tearful Lin-Manuel Miranda accepted the award for best score by reading a sonnet dedicated to his wife Vanessa, celebrating the importance of love and hope in times of tragedy.
“When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer.”