Jenn Colella, who has impressed Broadway audiences in productions of Urban Cowboy, High Fidelity, Chaplin, and If/Then, currently plays several roles, including airline pilot Beverley, in the award-winning musical Come From Away at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. In fact, Colella was nominated for a 2017 Tony Award for her passionate performance and also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.
We recently asked the Broadway favorite to pen a list of her most memorable nights in the theatre; her responses follow.
“Closing Night” of Urban Cowboy
What was supposed to be the closing night of Urban Cowboy on Broadway, a mere three days after we'd opened, culminated into a curtain speech given by our director, Lonny Price, announcing that we were not closing after all! We all leapt and cried and screamed like we'd just won the World Series. Jason Robert Brown was our musical director, and I have this incredible image of him just shaking his head in disbelief. It was awesome.
The Stephen Sondheim Birthday Concert at Lincoln Center
I sang “You're Gonna Love Tomorrow” with Matt Cavenaugh, Bobby Steggert, and Laura Osnes. We four were absolutely agog at all of the talent with us at that very special event. Days later I received a thank you note from Steve himself, and it's still framed in my apartment.
Come From Away Concert in Newfoundland
Performing a concert version of Come From Away at the Gander Hockey Rink for thousands of Newfoundlanders is definitely a career highlight. When we sang the lyric "I'm an Islander" in the opening number, the entire crowd rose to its feet with a roar. The cast broke into tears, and we haven't stopped talking about it since.
The 2017 Tony Awards
Dancing and singing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall at The Tony Awards is not something I ever dreamed I'd get to do. As I tipped past the front of the stage, arm and arm with Rockettes, I saw Uma Thurman in the front row, and she smiled and waved at me. Moments later I caught Sarah Paulson's eye, and she winked at me and whispered to Holland Taylor, “That's Jenn Colella.” I could've happily died right then and there.
A Celebration of Women in the Arts at the Kennedy Center
I was asked to perform “I Will Never Leave You” from Side Show at The Kennedy Center for an evening entitled A Celebration of Women in the Arts. I asked the extraordinary Julia Murney if she'd sing with me, and she accepted. The crowd was packed with celebrities and VIPs including Michelle Obama. We learned that we would be closing the entire evening with our duet. We made friends backstage with Vera Wang, Annie Leibowitz took a selfie with us, and we were having a grand ol' time. We listened to LeAnn Rimes, Dianne Reeves, and k.d. lang crush their songs. And then...Patti LaBelle gets up there with a gospel choir and slays "Over the Rainbow" with such ferocity that the audience leapt up and screamed. Patti LaBelle responded by throwing down her mic. I kid you not. Julia and I were up next, and I thought I was gonna poop my gown.