June 11, 2018 / 2:09 AM / 2 months ago

Florida shooting survivors get standing ovation at Tony awards

NEW YORK, June 10 (Reuters) - Student survivors of a Florida school shooting in February gave an emotional performance at the annual Tony Awards on Sunday, bringing the audience of Broadway stars to their feet.

There was scarcely a dry eye in the house at Radio City Music Hall in New York as members of the drama department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sang “Seasons of Love” from the popular musical “Rent” at the annual ceremony celebrating the best in Broadway theatre.

Some 17 students and educators were shot dead when a former student opened fire on February 14 at the school in Parkland, Florida.

“What a thrill to be in the same house as those amazing children. Weren’t they marvelous?” said British actress Glenda Jackson, 82, accepting a best actress Tony award moments later.

Several of the surviving students, most of them from the school’s drama department, later spearheaded a national movement to end gun violence, including a “March for our Lives” nationwide event in March that attracted tens of thousands of people.

Drama teacher Melody Herzfeld, who sheltered scores of students in the school’s drama room for more than two hours during the February shooting, was also in the audience on Sunday to accept a special Tony award for educators.

“Theater is transformative — it has the power to celebrate the best of times, and it has the power to help heal us and comfort us in the worst of times,” Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens, who organize the Tony awards, said in a statement recognizing Herzfeld’s efforts. (Reporting by Chris Michaud and Jill Serjeant)

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