Orlando Nightclub Massacre Casts Shadow Over Tony Awards

Tony Awards
Courtesy of Tony Awards

The devastating news of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history has left Tony Awards producers and CBS and scrambling to figure out the right way to address the tragedy on the three-hour live ceremony that is just hours away.

Police in Orlando, Fla., report that at least 50 people were killed inside a gay nightclub early Sunday morning by a lone gunman. Some 53 others were wounded before the shooter was killed as police entered the nightclub after a three-hour standoff.

Tony Awards producers said the show would go on as scheduled and be dedicated to the victims of the Orlando massacre. Details of the shootings were just surfacing as the Tony team gathered early Sunday at Manhattan’s Beacon Theater for the show’s dress rehearsal. The ceremony will be hosted by James Corden, frontman of CBS’ “Late Late Show.”

“Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando,” Tony producers said in a statement. “The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”

Now that the death toll has climbed to at least 50, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, there is heightened pressure on show producers, Corden and Tony attendees to handle the situation delicately, lest they appear insensitive to a national tragedy.

Compounding the situation for the theater community is the fact that the shootings occurred at a gay nightclub. Already, prominent LGBTQ showbiz figures including Greg Berlanti and Dustin Lance Black have decried the attack and expressed sorrow for the victims.

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All of this is casting a shadow over what was expected to be a coronation for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” which is expected to clean up in awards.

CBS has faced tough calls with awards telecasts in the past. In 2001, the network grappled with the fallout from the Sept. 11 and rescheduled its planned Sept. 16 airing of the Emmy Awards to Oct. 7. And then the kudocast was postponed yet again to Nov. 4 when the U.S. began its invasion of Iraq began on Oct. 7.

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  1. J. C. says:

    Are any of the newsmagazine providing coverage of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre tonight? 60 Minutes? Dateline? 20/20? Diane Sawyer Primetime? It would be great if some network provided some in depth reports tonight like ABC did last night with it’s highly informative O J. Simpson special.

  2. Keith Fahey says:

    Regarding postponed Tony Awards in 2001: It’s mixing events to say the second postponement was due to the invasion of Iraq on Oct. 7.

    After New York’s Towers were attacked in 2001, four weeks passed before Bush-Cheney began bombing Afghanistan on Oct. 7. Actual troop invasion of Afghanistan came later that month.

    Iraq was another matter. It took about eighteen months for Bush-Cheney to weave their web of weapons of mass distraction, delaying their invasion of Iraq until March 2003.

  3. Jimmy Green says:

    Do Not Cancel. Do Not Postpone. This is the moment for Broadway to show ultimate strength and solidarity with the gay community.

  4. Nanny Mo says:

    How sad. My cousin is a police detective and he said that murders of passion are always more violent. He says the most violent are men killing men they once loved. We shall see when the story gets out. There was probably a broken heart involved here somewhere.

  5. Elizabeth Weiner says:

    How about scrapping the opening number and having a group of performers from the nominated musicals sing “Seasons of Love” from Rent, instead?

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