Broadway shows return to the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth on Tuesday night for the first time since COVID-19 closed the curtains.
The season kicks off with "Come From Away," a true story about an American
Airlines pilot based in North Texas and passengers stranded in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
It opened in Dallas in March 2020 and now resumes in Fort Worth after 567 days. For the cast, it’s a full-circle moment to be back in Texas.
“She’s real Beverley Bass and I'm pretend Beverley Bass,” said Marika Aubrey, the Australian performer who stars as Beverley Bass in the U.S. national tour.
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In a Zoom interview with NBC 5, it was obvious there is nothing pretend about the respect and admiration between Aubrey and Bass.
Their lives are linked through the musical "Come From Away." It’s the story of 7,000 passengers on 38 planes that diverted to the Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland.
When the world stopped, Gander opened welcoming arms.
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“Our show's always been incredibly relevant and powerful but I think no more so than now when we're all coming out of a period that was so bizarre and so traumatic for so many people,” Aubrey said.
The show is also the story of Bass. a trailblazing pilot who kept everyone calm that day. Bass was on a Paris to Dallas flight when she got word to land in Canada, and it’s her experience told in the musical.
“I just happened to go back to Gander for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 which is when I met the playwrights,” Bass said. “I just happened to be the only pilot who returned and that's the reason I’m the pilot who is represented in the beautiful musical 'Come From Away.'”
Bass grew up in Florida but made history in North Texas.
“My first job in Fort Worth was actually flying bodies for a mortician, and I got hired by American in 1976 as their third female pilot. And, 10 years later, had the privilege of becoming the first female captain. And one month after that, had the first all-female crew for American Airlines,” Bass said.
Bass retired from American as a Boeing 777 captain. A 4-minute, 19-second song called "Me and the Sky" chronicles her aviation life.
“It would be fair to say, that I absolutely love when she sings 'Me and The Sky,'” Bass said. “It's so profound and I get so excited when I know that part of the show is coming up.”
Bass’s history-making career will now land in her second hometown of Fort Worth where she graduated from TCU and has lived for 50 years.
“I’m aware that being in Fort Worth, her hometown, I’m going to have a lot of special guests and friends from her community. So yes, there will be a little bit of extra pressure on me to make sure the story is clear and honoring her,” Aubrey said. “Come on out to live theater again and I promise you, you will walk away feeling better for it.”
"Come From Away" runs Oct.19-25 at Bass Performance Hall.