Students from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took the Radio City Musical Hall stage to deliver a rendition of “Seasons of Love” from Rent that brought the audience to tears and drew a thunderous ovation. (Watch full video below.)
Seeingng a full-tilt performance at the Tony Awards from students who survived the February 14 shooting at the school had audience members on the edge of their seats. CBS cameras caught many of the celebrities in the crowd, including the usually hard-bitten Amy Schumer, with tears in their eyes.
The musical number followed the acknowledgement of her Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education to Melody Herzfeld, a drama teacher at the school. Herzfeld hid with 65 of her students during the shooting and a week later led them in a performance of the song “Shine” during a CNN town hall broadcast focused on the shooting’s aftermath.
“We all have a common energy,” Herzfeld said in a speech during the non-broadcast Creative Arts portion of the show. “We all want the same thing: to be heard. To hit our mark. … We teach this every day. In every arts class.”
Except for a couple of oblique references to the shooting, Herzfeld did not address it directly during her speech.
The choice of “Seasons of Love” helps explain the reaction. It is both a school-musical staple and a remarkably effective number, known for its lilting repetition of the number “five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” — the amount of time in a year.
Here’s the full video clip: