James Corden used his opening speech at the 2016 Tony awards to pay an emotional tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Hosting the annual ceremony for the first time, the The Late Late Show presenter told those affected by the atrocity that they were not alone.

At least 50 people were killed and another 53 injured in the early hours of Sunday 12 June when Omar Mateen opened fire at LGBT nightclub Pulse, based in Orlando, Florida.

Speaking directly to the camera from New York's packed Beacon Theatre, Corden sent his condolences to the survivors and the families of the victims: "On behalf of the whole theatre community, and every person in this room, our hearts go out to all 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. Theatre 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 celebration of that principle."

Ahead of the event a message on the Tony Awards Twitter account revealed that the ceremony would be dedicated to the family and friends of the victims of the "unimaginable tragedy". Corden joins the growing list of prominent figures who have expressed their shock and condolences over the the incident, which has been described as the worst mass shooting in US history.

"When will we do something to prevent these killing sprees?" said an incensed John Legend.

In a series of emotive tweets, Cher called for the US address the gun laws. The veteran singer said: "No words good enough‼️ When ur hurt, wounded, murdered we all cry‼️ We all mourn‼️ We r all led without u my extended family ‼️#URNOTALONE. If nothing else, automatic assault rifles & those that can be made in2 assault weapons W/ huge clips... must b banned #ASSUALTWEAPONSONLYKILLMAN."

The FBI is leading the investigation with local law enforcement treating the deadliest mass shooting in US history as an act of terrorism. Authorities state that the 29-year-old lone gunman may have been inspired by the Islamic State (Isis), with the media reporting the shooter called 911 during the attack to identify himself and pledge allegiance to Isis.

Orlando gay club shooting mourners
Mourners lay flowers during a vigil outside the Stonewall Inn in New YorkBryan R Smith/AFP