The Tony Awards, which honor the best of Broadway, opened in New York on Sunday dedicated to victims of the Orlando massacre, the deadliest terror attack in America since September 11, 2001.
Fifty people died when a heavily-armed gunman opened fire and seized hostages at a popular gay nightclub in the Florida city before the attack was shot dead by a police SWAT team.
“Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity,” host James Corden told the start of the ceremony, the equivalent of the Oscars for theater.
The British comedian and TV host, who is now based in California, said every race, creed and sexuality would always be welcome at the theater.
“Hate will never win. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle,” he added.
Smash-hit, hip-hop musical “Hamilton” is expected to dominate the awards, leading the way with a record 16 nominations.
The tale of America’s founding fathers sung in hip-hop is the hottest ticket in town, which has even been seen by President Barack Obama.
It broke another record last week by offering tickets for more than an eye-watering $6,000 for the July 9 last-night performance by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator and current leading actor.