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Tony Awards: 'Our hearts are heavy' but show will go on

By Brian Stelter

Frank Pallotta and Chloe Melas

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Organizers of the Tony Awards say the show will go on in the wake of a horrific terror attack in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday.

The Tonys, Broadway's biggest night of the year, are scheduled to begin at the Beacon Theatre in New York at 8 p.m. ET. CBS will televise the awards show.

"The Broadway community really wanted to continue with this, as did we," CBS chief executive Les Moonves told CNNMoney. "It's important that the show go on. And the show's being done in honor of the victims."

Host James Corden pre-taped his opening monologue shortly before 8 p.m.

"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," Corden said.

"All we can say is, you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy," Corden said. "Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved."

Then Corden said: "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."

Outside, the scene on the red carpet was noticeably subdued, but hundreds of fans still shouted as Broadway stars arrived and posed for photos. Some attendees wore silver ribbons to commemorate the terror attack.

And a few dozen members of the group Everytown for Gun Safety held up signs with messages decrying gun violence.

Earlier in the day, the Tony organizers said "our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy" in Orlando. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them."

The telecast will incorporate tributes to the victims of the shooting spree at the gay nightclub Pulse, which has left an estimated 50 dead and another 53 injured. It is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

"Tonight, every note I sing will be in remembrance of the lives taken in Orlando," actress and Tony nominee Laura Benanti tweeted Sunday afternoon.

When the cast of "Hamilton" performs during the telecast, their usual prop muskets will be set aside, a spokesman for the show confirmed.

The usual pre-show celebrations were subdued in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon.

While she was preparing, longtime Tony voter Colleen J-Roggensack wrote, "I am reminded theatre heals and tonite we will celebrate the good in the world."

There will still be a red carpet, but some stars are expected to opt out of the usual interviews and photo ops.

The only comment on Sunday from the man who's expected to be the biggest winner of the night, "Hamilton" creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, was an image of a rainbow-colored heart and the word "Orlando."

Other Broadway stars, like Audra McDonald and Kristin Chenoweth, reacted to the attack with horror.

"When will the violence end?" Chenoweth asked via Twitter.

Before Sunday, the headline around the Tony Awards had been whether "Hamilton" would make history. The hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton is nominated for a record 16 nominations.

"Hamilton" is up for two of the biggest awards: Best Musical and Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Miranda and co-star Leslie Odom Jr. are both nominees in the category).

The show, which casts people of color as our nation's Founding Fathers, needs to win 13 awards to break the record for most Tony wins for a musical. The current record holder is held by "The Producers," which won 12 in 2001.

Although "Hamilton" is expected to sweep most of its categories, some other big wins are also up for grabs.

Stephen Karam's "The Humans" is a fan favorite to win Best Play and Jessica Lange, Lupita Nyong'o and Michelle Williams are competing against one another for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

A spotlight will also be on Corden, host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS, who will emcee the telecast.

He's no stranger to the stage; he won a Tony in 2012 for Best Actor in a play for "One Man, Two Guvnors."

All eyes will be on Corden at the beginning of the awards show for his comments about the violence in Orlando.

--CNN's David Shortell contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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