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.”

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