“We are right over the middle of the North Atlantic when we get notified over the air-to-air frequency that one of the towers had been hit,” Captain Beverley Bass said on The Today Show of flying a flight from Paris to Dallas on September 11, 2001. “But we went back to our business as usual. Then, about 20 minutes later, we were notified the second tower had been hit and with that came the word terrorism.
“We don’t get orders as to where to land, but we did that day,” she continued. “For me the hardest part was my PA. What am I gonna say to the passengers? We didn’t have any training, we didn’t have a checklist, we didn’t have any guidelines to follow.”
Bass’ story and those of the passengers of the other planes forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on 9/11 play out in the Tony-nominated Come From Away.
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As for actor Jenn Colella, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Bass and others in the Tony-nominated Best Musical Come From Away, she relishes playing American Airlines’ first female captain. “I’m genuinely, deeply touched each night to tell her story,” she said. “I’m the luckiest.”
And Bass loves to see her story played out onstage. She’s seen the show 75 times, but recalled the first time she ever saw the show: “Within the first five minutes of the show, when Jenn picks up the phone and says, ‘I’m fine, Tom,’ my husband literally buried his head in his hands and was sobbing because what I realized at that time is that day was actually harder on him than it was on me.”
Watch the full video interview below: