Survivors of the school shooting that took place in Parkland graced the stage at Sunday nights Tony awards. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School performed Rent’s ‘Seasons of Love’ to a visibly moved crowd.
The surprise performance took place after a teacher from the school took home the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University give out the award annually to a K-12 teacher. This year they gave it to Melody Herzfeld, a drama teacher at Douglass High School who was present at the time of the shooting. During the shooting she kept 65 students safe. Herzfeld has been responsible for over 50 productions during her time at the parkland school. The award comes with a $10,000 prize for the schools theatre program.
Herzfeld said in her acceptance speech that “Next to the passing of my dear parents and in-laws, marrying the love of my life and the birth of my amazing sons and reuniting with my theater students, there has never been a more defining moment of my life.’ She also recalled a week before the shooting that she was in a ” circle with my beloved students and encouraging them to be good to each other when times were trying. And I remember only a week later, on February 14th, a perfect day, where all these lessons in my life and in their short lives would be called upon to set into action.”
The performance was organized after Tanzil Philip asked the Tony’s if the students could appear during the show. On Monday Kali Clougherty (the soloist) shared her feelings about the performance with The Today Show. “I’ve been dreaming that since I was 8 years old, I just graduated high school and, I mean, I’m not even on Broadway yet, and I got to do what a lot of people on Broadway haven’t gotten to do yet.”
See the performance here.