Tonys: Awards Ceremony to be Dedicated to Victims of Orlando Shooting

Hamilton Still new 3 - H 2016
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Given the deep ties between Broadway and the LGBT community, the impact of the tragedy is expected to weigh heavily on tonight's ceremony, including the elimination of weapons from a 'Hamilton' musical number to be performed.

Organizers of the 70th Annual Tony Awards have released a statement in response to Saturday night's horrific mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in which 50 people were killed and 53 more wounded.

"Our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy that happened last night in Orlando," said the statement from Tony Award Productions. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them."

The Tonys have deep ties to the LGBT community. Long before gay marriage entered the national conversation, Tony winners regularly were thanking their same-sex partners, reflecting the greater level of acceptance and visibility among the theater community compared to other branches of the entertainment industry.

In recent years, the Tonys have frequently been hosted by out gay performers such as Alan Cumming and four-time host Neil Patrick Harris.

Reports surfaced early Sunday afternoon that the cast of Hamilton, which is expected to dominate the awards with a record 16 nominations, will drop the use of prop muskets from the number being performed during the Tony telecast. Given that Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster musical climaxes with the fatal shooting of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr in a duel, it was a given that the tragic resonance with the weekend's gun violence would not go unnoted.

The Hamilton performance of two battle songs, "History Has Its Eyes on You" and "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)," featuring nominated stars Miranda and Christopher Jackson, is scheduled near the end of the ceremony.

Veteran Broadway costumer William Ivey Long, a six-time Tony winner, designed special silver ribbons for the occasion to be worn by nominees and presenters in tribute to the Orlando victims.

The Tonys will air live on CBS from New York's Beacon Theatre at 8 p.m. ET (PT time delay). James Corden will host the ceremony.

In the meantime, prominent theater names tweeted their reactions to the shooting, including record six-time Tony-winning performer Audra McDonald and previous winner Laura Benanti, nominated tonight for She Loves Me. Hamilton nominee Leslie Odom Jr. wrote simply, "Good God. Florida," while Cynthia Erivo, nominated for The Color Purple, tweeted, "This violence must end!!! We can not keep doing this!!"

Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County mayor Theresa Jacobs and Kathy Ramsberger, president and CEO of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts also released a video thanking Broadway for "standing with us during our time of great need."

"Your thoughts, your prayers and your outpouring of love have been felt and they help us begin the healing of our diverse community," Jacobs added.

For The Hollywood Reporter's full coverage on the breaking news story in Orlando, check here.