"Hate will never win," James Corden said in a message before kicking off the 2016 Tony Awards

By Lindsay Kimble
Updated October 05, 2016 06:19 PM
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Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

James Corden kicked off the 2016 Tony Awards with a powerful message acknowledging the mass shooting in Orlando – the deadliest in U.S. history – that occurred less that 24 hours before he took the stage.

“All around the world people are trying to come to terms with the horrific events that took place in Orlando this morning,” the host said at the top of telecast. “On behalf of the whole theater community and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all of those affected by this atrocity.”

He continued, “All we can say is you are not on your own right now, your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced and is loved. Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that.”

“Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle,” Corden concluded, as he was met by raucous applause from the audience at New York City’s Beacon Theatre.

Earlier, Tony organizers announced they were dedicating the show to the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub, which left at least 50 dead, and 53 injured.

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[BRIGHTCOVE “21012403” “” “people now” “no” ]

“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,” an update on the Tonys website read. “The Tony Awards dedicate tonight’s ceremony to them.”

Several nominees and attendees acknowledged the tragedy on the red carpet Sunday, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

“The LGBT community is my community … when I was a kid, I would always look to the Tony awards to give me hope, to give me joy and I hope we can give that to the nation tonight,” he said.