The drama department of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School moved the Tony audience to tears with a powerful rendition of Rent’s “Seasons of Love” as a tribute to their fallen students who were killed during a mass school shooting on February 14, 2018.
Student survivors of the Parkland shooting made a surprise appearance at the awards show on June 10, delivering a moving performance from the Tony-winning musical. Celebrities and Broadway legends were seen wiping away tears during the student’s performance. This tribute came after their drama teacher Melody Herzfeld received the coveted Excellence in Theatre Education Award, as reported by People Magazine.
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” a chorus of voices began to sing as the stage lights lightly illuminated the faces of the teenaged students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department.
At the conclusion of their performance, the audience was on its feet, giving the students a standing ovation for their bravery, their talent, and the courage it took to move forward after tragedy.
Herzfeld was given the honor, which includes a $10,000 prize for her school’s theater program. The education award and its prize hail from the Broadway League, the American Theatre Wing, and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as other theater industry leaders.
Herzfeld hid 60 of her students in the school’s drama room for over two hours during the senseless massacre after a former student opened fire. The tragic shooting left 17 innocent students and faculty members dead and more than a dozen others injured. “All the goodness and tragedy that has brought me to this point will always be embraced,” Herzfeld said as she accepted the award, according to the Washington Post.
“The most beautiful and important thing that has ever happened at an awards show,” said Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s The Last Word in a tweet.
Will & Grace star Debra Messing also posted an emotional tweet regarding the important moment in Tony history. “Omg the Parkland Drama club just performed ‘Seasons of Love’ on the #Tonys and I am all mucus. That was so powerful. Thank you #Emmys for including these extraordinary kids.”
The most dramatic point of the performance came when female soloist Kali Clougherty hit the song’s iconic high note, one that is difficult for even the most technically advanced singer to master. Said a Twitter user, “That soloist from Parkland just outsang half of tonight’s performers. Step up your game literally everyone else.”
The 72nd annual Tony Awards was hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban and aired live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS.