It’s been a difficult couple of days. At times like these, it can be hard to know where to turn for consolation, to connect, to make sense of tragedy. But last night, the Tony Awards did their best to bring everyone together and express their grief at the shooting, and their hope for the future.
The show started with host James Corden speaking about acceptance: “Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, embraced, and loved,” he said. “Hate will never win.”
Before the tragedy, Corden told reporters that his opening number for the Tonys would be directed to “the theater kid who lives in Michigan or Nebraska, who just dreams of being on a stage.”
Various other celebrities spoke about the tragedy as well. “When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us or we let it strengthen us,” said Frank Langella. “I’m standing in a room of the most generous human beings on Earth and we will be with you every step of the way.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda had a lengthy soliloquy prepared about the power of love. His show won 11 awards last night, coming close to the record set by another post-disaster ceremony: the 12 Tonys won by The Producers.
“Tonight our joy is tinged with sorrow,” said Barbra Streisand, “but we’re here to celebrate Broadway and the beauty that artistry can bring into this world.”
Corden joked of the ceremony, “It is so diverse that Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theater.”
Then again, some moments fell a bit flat. CBS used the show as an opportunity to promote some upcoming TV shows, a bizarre mismatch that just felt tasteless. At other points, presenters who talked for too long had their mics switched off — including Jessica Lange, which is unthinkable.
Overall, though, it was a bit of perfect timing that the Tonys (aka The Hamilton Awards) were this weekend. The pain of the shooting is still raw, but by talking and singing and dancing through the pain, we can begin to process the feelings and move forward.
Watch the opening number below:
Here’s Lin-Manuel Miranda’s moving acceptance speech: