Tonys Red Carpet: Big Broadway Names Tout Perseverance, Freedom in Wake of Orlando Attack

The show must go on — that was the emphatic sentiment shared Sunday night on the Tony Awards red carpet outside the Beacon Theater.

On the same day the nation was jolted by the death toll from worst mass shooting in U.S. history, some nominees said the prospect of attending the glitzy awards ceremony gave them pause. But many cited the role of theater in expressing the need for tolerance and allowing people to escape into entertainment as reason for the show to carry on.

‘You have that first feeling of ‘Is it appropriate to smile? Is it appropriate to laugh,’ “ said Jennifer Simard, a lead actress nominee for the musical “Disasster!” But as it sank in Simard and others decided that there was no good to come of tabling a night that celebrates art and achievement.

“Art is the way we express ourselves and put a spotlight on problems of the moment. I hope that the victims and their families know how this community is putting their arms around them,” Simard said. “Love wins.”

David Korins, set designer for “Hamilton,” said the fact that the gunman targeted a LGBTQ nightclub made it that much more important for the theater community to soldier on.

‘I look forward to our community rallying and putting on a great show,” Korins said. As for the fact that the horror out of Orlando forced “Hamilton” to remove the muskets in the number it presented on the Tonys, Korins said “I’d like the take the muskets out of the hands of everyone. History keeps repeating itself.”

Danai Gurira, playwright of “Eclipsed” and a regular on “The Walking Dead,” expressed frustration with the seemingly never-ending run of mass shootings in the U.S.

“When are we going to learn how to say ‘Enough is enough,’ “ she said. “It’s time.”

Alex Brightman, star of “School of Rock,” said the news out of Orlando only reinforced the responsibilities that theater pros have to audiences.

“What we do is to take people away from their lives for two and a half hours,” Brightman said. “That’s what we are doing.”

Florian Zeller, the Parisian playwright of “The Father,” urged Americans to show resolve in the face of Sunday’s massacre. He acknowledged that his native country is still recovering from the terror attacks in November that left 130 dead.

“Life is stronger than fear,” he said. “We don’t want to change the way we live. Theater is about freedom. Theater is a way to express that we have to go on.”

Julian Fellowes, nommed for writing the book of “School of Rock,” expressed “tremendous sadness at so many lives cut short.” He also said that the biggest question that needs to be answered regarding mass shootings is the “why” of it all.

“We don’t understand why this keeps happening — that’s what so hard about it,” Fellowes said. “What makes young men take guns in a concert halls and nightclubs? In World War II people lost their loved ones but they knew why it happened. Now people lose loved ones and have their lives ruined and we don’t even know why.”

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • David-Alan-Grier-Blair-Underwood

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood to Star in 'A Soldier's Play' on Broadway

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood will star in a Broadway production of Pulitzer-Prize winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Announces Broadway Cast

    After an Olivier-winning run in London, “The Inheritance” is gearing up for its Broadway debut. The two-part epic has set the cast for its transfer from the West End to the Great White Way. John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Andrew Burnap and Kyle Soller are among the cast members reprising their roles [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Announces 2020 National Tour

    ‘Hadestown’, the eight-time Tony award winning Broadway musical, is set for a national tour in 2020. The show will stop in more than 30 cities including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and more. The musical is a stage adaptation of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and King Hades and his wife [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His 'Best Self' in the Theater

    Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of [...]

  • Photo: Jeremy Daniel

    'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Gets Broadway Run

    “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is Broadway bound. The musical adaptation of the franchise about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon hits the Great White Way on Sept. 20 ahead of an Oct. 16 opening night. It comes on the heels of an extensive, nationwide tour that took the show [...]

  • Tom Sturridge Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate 'Sea Wall/A Life' With Star-Studded Opening Night

    A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.” Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content