James Corden opened the 2016 Tony Awards with an emotional speech on Sunday, June 12, hours after a lone gunman killed 50 people and injured dozens more during a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“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.”
After his speech, members of the Hamilton cast took to the stage and sang about the British host, who made a quick dig at Donald Trump before crooning and dancing his way through a number about his childhood Broadway dreams.
The Late Late Show host, 37, previously teased his opening number during an interview with the New York Times, saying that he wanted his act to speak to theater fans across the country.
“Let’s try to have an opening that talks to the theater kid in Nebraska, or Ohio, or Michigan, who dreams of being a performer on a stage one day, dreams of working on Broadway and to whom it feels so far away,” he said on Thursday, June 9. “And this one night represents the center of their world for that day, you know? Let’s try and have a song that says you can absolutely do this.”
Earlier this week, Corden prepared for the Tony Awards with a new segmentof his late night show’s signature Carpool Karaoke series. With some help from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and fellow Broadway stars Jane Krakowski, Audra McDonald and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the TV host sang some unforgettable show tunes, including Rent’s “Seasons of Love” and Les Misérables’ “One More Day.”
As Us Weekly previously reported, the 2016 Tony Awards dedicated its ceremony on Sunday evening to the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando,” Tony Award Productions said in a statement on Sunday. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”
The incident, which is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, was carried out by ISIS follower Omar Mateen.
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