The Texas Connection: How North Texas will be repped at tonight’s Tony Awards

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Jenn Colella plays real life pilot and North Texas transplant Beverley Bass in the Tony-nominated musical “Come From Away.” (Kevin Berne / La Jolla Playhouse)

North Texas will be well-represented at tonight’s 71st Annual Tony Awards.  Here’s how:

• Up for seven Tonys, the 9/11-themed musical Come From Away features a character based on North Texan and TCU grad Beverley Bass. Bass, a former pilot for American Airlines (and the airline’s very first female captain), was at the controls of a Boeing 777, en route from Paris to Dallas, when flights were rerouted on 9/11 to Gander, Newfoundland.

The musical tells the stories of how the passengers and crew were accepted by the town’s residents. “In the midst of one of the most terrifying tragedies, they showed us the other side of humanity,” Bass told local theater critic Nancy Churnin. 

Come From Away has another Texas connection: In the show, two passengers on Bass’ flight fall in love and, eventually, get married. That’s based on the true story of Spring, Texas couple Nick and Diane Marson.

• Trimble Tech theater teacher Cheryl Penland received an Honorable Mention from the Tonys for Excellence in Theatre Education. Earlier this year, we bestowed our own award on Penland, the very first Broadway at the Bass Chair for Teaching Excellence in Performing Arts in Theater and/or Dance. You can read about Penland’s devotion to her craft in this profile, written by Performing Arts Fort Worth staffer Taylor Woods.

• From the ICYMI department: Earlier this year, the Tonys announced Dallas Theater Center had won this year’s Regional Theatre Tony Award, an honor designed to recognize the work of a theater outside of Broadway. DTC will officially accept the award tonight. Looks like they’re having a blast in NY, prepping for their big night.

Many, many, many Texans/North Texans are starring in Tony-nominated shows. Among them: Jonathan Fielding, a Fort Worth native and TCU grad who understudies three roles in The Play That Goes Wrong. Fielding is also a co-founder of Amphibian Stage Productions. For additional North Texas connections to tonight’s show, check out this story from Nancy Churnin.

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