Just hours after 50 people were fatally shot at an Orlando nightclub, the theater community is paying heartfelt tribute the victims on the largest stage possible.
"People all around the world are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning. 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. All we can say is you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy," he declared.
"Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is 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. This is the Tony Awards."
Earlier Sunday, the ceremony's producers announced the entire show would be dedicated to all those affected by the tragic shooting. "Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those affected," the show's Twitter account read. "The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them."
Tonight, every note I sing will be in remembrance of the lives taken in Orlando. ?— Laura Benanti (@LauraBenanti) June 12, 2016
Additionally, costume designer William Ivey Long organized for silver ribbons to be handed out and worn along the red carpet in dedication to those slain in the tragedy.
In solidarity with the victims, the 16-time nominated Hamilton cast will not use muskets in their live performance during the show tonight, as reported by the New York Times' Michael Paulson.
In what's been statistically deemed the worst mass shooting in United States history, a male gunman opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday night. The shooter was ultimately shot dead by police.