The dress rehearsal for the 2016 Tony Awards answered a lot of questions — from what song the cast of “Hamilton” will perform to which award Barbra Streisand will present — but attendees at the Sunday morning run-through still had one lingering uncertainty when it was all over: How will the Tonycast acknowledge the shootings in Orlando that occurred less than 24 hours before Broadway’s biggest night?
Representatives for “Hamilton,” the musical expected to come out on top at the awards ceremony, have confirmed that the show’s Tony number will drop the use of prop muskets. Those muskets were used during the rehearsal itself, during which no formal mention of the events in Florida was made, except for one crew member, standing in for a winner at the podium, sending his thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
“They mentioned it once, but I thought it would have been nice if they did something a little bit more,” said Karen Russell from upstate New York, who attended the rehearsal through a charity auction.
Other audience members at the rehearsal acknowledged the challenges in taking note of the tragedy in a sensitive fashion, but believed it should — and ultimately would — be done.
“It’s a hard thing to do, but it probably should be mentioned, considering the venue of the shooting,” said Astrid Cook from Brooklyn. “There’s strong support for the LGBTQ community in the New York theater scene, and I suspect that [ceremony host] James Corden will probably work something in tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he says something at the beginning of the show.”
The events in Orlando will also likely effect security at the Tony ceremony. There’s been no formal announcement made by the Tony producers, but attendees did get an email in the afternoon warning them to arrive at the venue half an hour earlier than usual, due to “main street closures in the area of the Beacon Theater,” the Upper West Side theater where the ceremony will take place.
It seemed certain, in any event, that last night’s shootings will be in the minds of many as the telecast hits the airwaves.
“The show must go on, but they also must be aware of reality,” said Juan-Jose Gonzalez of BroadwayWorld Spain, one of the many press outlets attending the rehearsal. “Theater cannot be outside of what happens in the world.”
For now, Tony Awards Productions has sent out the following statement via email and social media: “Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”