Tony Awards Dedicating Sunday's Ceremony to Victims of Orlando Mass Shooting
By Desiree Murphy
The Tony Awards, airing tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, will be dedicated to the families and friends of those who were affected by the early Sunday morning shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 50 dead, including the gunman, and more than 50 injured.
A source close to the production tells ET that the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history will be addressed at the beginning of the live broadcast at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Ahead of the ceremony, a special message recorded by host James Corden of The Late Late Show will also be aired, the source adds.
"Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando," a statement posted to the Tony Awards' official Twitter account read. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them."
Tony nominee Laura Benanti, who is set to take the stage to perform with Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, and the cast of She Loves Me, also took to Twitter, writing, "Tonight, every note I sing will be in remembrance of the lives taken in Orlando."
Tonight, every note I sing will be in remembrance of the lives taken in Orlando. 💔
Gloria Estefan, who is also performing, paid tribute to the victims of the shootings via Instagram.
"My heart breaks for the friends and families of the souls whose lives were taken by two senseless acts of violence in two days in Orlando, Florida, a place I consider my home," she wrote. "As these massacres become commonplace it becomes even more important for us to love each other as much as humanly possible and to never lose hope that we can somehow make things better. Love will always win and lead us through the darkness into the light... May the souls of the victims rest in peace."
As previously reported, the shooting occurred around 2:20 a.m. at Pulse nightclub, described as "Orlando's hottest gay bar." The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the suspect was found with a handgun and an AR-15-style assault rifle, according to CBS News.
A GoFundMe account was created by Equality Florida, the state's LGBT civil rights organization, to help support victims of the massacre.
"We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country," a message on the page reads. "Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument."