Tonys: Parkland Students Perform "Seasons of Love"
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher Melody Herzfeld was honored with the excellence in theater education award as the Broadway ceremony took time to remember the tragic Florida shooting in February.
The Tony Awards took time out of Sunday's 72nd annual ceremony to honor the students and teachers who survived the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in February and remember the tragedy.
Ming-Na Wen presented Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher Melody Herzfeld with the excellence in theater education award during the ceremony. Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, Herzfeld has encouraged her students to use theater and music to express how the tragedy impacted them.
Matthew Morrison then took the stage to thank Herzfeld and her students for their inspiring courage following the tragedy. “Melody, as a former teacher I want to add my heartfelt gratitude and personal congratulations to you,” said the former Glee actor. “Just two months ago at a benefit concert for Parkland, members of our community and I had the honor of sharing the stage with some of the most incredibly talented students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. For us it was a life-changing experience to see these inspiring people channeling their intense feelings of hurt and rage and sorrow into art.”
Morrison then explained that student Tanzil Philip asked if he and his classmates could attend the awards show to thank the Broadway community for their support and for bringing “much needed light into the dark.” He continued, “Rather than inviting you onto this stage to say thanks to us, our Broadway family wants to give and say thanks to you by sharing the stage with you and your classmates.”
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas drama department then took the stage to perform a moving rendition of “Seasons of Love” from Rent. The performance received a standing ovation from the audience.
This year’s ceremony in not the first time the awards show has addressed the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America. The Tony Awards in 2016 was dedicated to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that took place in the early morning hours of the same day.
That night included a speech by host James Corden about how “hate can never win.” Many winners honored the victims in their acceptance speeches, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s emotional sonnet that declared, “Love is love.” Those in attendance wore silver ribbons in observance of the shooting. The cast of Hamilton also made a point to remove the muskets usually used in the production for their performance of “Yorktown.”