Tony Awards dedicated to Orlando shooting victims

Laura-Benanti-Twitter

MARK KENNEDY, AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) โ€” The shooting at a gay Florida nightclub cast a shadow on the 2016 Tony Awards, with organizers dedicating Sunday’s ceremony to the victims and Broadway performers rushing to embrace the LGBT community.

“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 said in a statement Sunday. “The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”

At least 50 people died early Sunday when a gunman opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Organizers didn’t say how the evening’s Tony broadcast would be affected, but “Hamilton” โ€” the musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton that is expected to win big โ€” will drop its use of muskets in its performance, according to a spokesman for the musical.

Performers who have strong ties to the gay community like Donna Murphy and Audra McDonald took to Twitter to express their outrage over the attack. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of “Hamilton” tweeted a rainbow-colored heart with “Orlando” written beneath it.

Josh Groban, who plans to star on Broadway this fall, tweeted: “We mourn but stand tall.” Tony nominee Cynthia Erivo simply wrote: “Sending thoughts to Orlando.”

The performance from the revival of “Spring Awakening,” featuring a mix of hearing and deaf performers, was dedicated to the victims. The show’s director, Michael Arden, called the attack “senseless.”

The shooting threatened to put a damper on the expected victory lap for “Hamilton,” Miranda’s hip-hop-flavored biography about the first U.S. treasury secretary. With its diverse cast, the show has become a cultural phenomenon, bringing attention to Broadway like no other.

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