The Canadian musical Come From Away won a Tony Award Sunday for best direction, which went to American stage director Christopher Ashley.

The production is based on real-life stories of people in and around Gander, N.L., who provided food, shelter and comfort to thousands of stranded passengers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"I'd like to accept this [award] on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and all of the first responders and their families in New York," Ashley said during his acceptance speech.

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Christopher Ashley accepts the award for best direction of a musical for Come From Away. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

"The people who gave their lives and the people who extended their hearts and their homes and were generous and kind at the very worst moments."

"The same story that inspired us is inspiring so many other people." - David Hein, Come From Away co-writer

The feel-good hit, which has become the toast of the theatre scene since it officially opened on Broadway in March, was written by Canadian husband-and-wife team David Hein and Irene Sankoff.

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Irene Sankoff and David Hein attend the Tony Honours Cocktail Party celebrating the 2017 special award recipients at Sofitel Hotel June 5 in New York City. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

"What's amazing is seeing that the story behind it resonates just as strongly with everyone who comes to it,"  Hein told CBC News in New York. "Over this six-year journey, the same story that inspired us is inspiring so many other people and that means the world."

Come From Away received seven Tony nominations in total, including best musical, best book of a musical and original score.

All of those awards, however, went to the heartfelt Dear Evan Hansen, about a teenager with social anxiety disorder who becomes an unlikely hero following the suicide of a classmate.

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Producer Stacey Mindich and the cast of Dear Evan Hansen accept the award for best musical. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Dear Evan Hansen's Ben Platt won for best actor in a musical. Other winners included Oslo for best play and Hello, Dolly! for best revival of a musical.

House of Cards star and Tony-winning actor Kevin Spacey hosted the evening, opening the show with a lighthearted number about the pains of helming the Tonys for the first time.

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Host Kevin Spacey performs onstage during his opening number, which included appearances by Whoopi Goldberg and Stephen Colbert. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg made cameo appearances to offer hosting advice. Goldberg included a shout-out to Newfoundland.

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Whoopi Goldberg made a reference to Newfoundland, where Come From Away is set, just before the cast from the musical took the stage for a performance. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

"If you want to learn, you've got to go to where some of the greatest hosts of all times have gotten their start. Carson, Crystal, Letterman. You've got to go to the Rock," Goldberg said, just before the Come From Away company performed Welcome to the Rock from the musical.

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The cast of Come From Away, a Canadian-written musical about the Newfoundlanders who helped stranded passengers during 9/11, give a wave during their performance at the Tonys. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Click here to learn more about Come From Away and its Canadian writers. A complete list of this year's Tony winners can be found below.


2017 Tony Award winners

Best musical: Dear Evan Hansen

Best play: Oslo

Best book of a musical: Dear Evan Hansen

Best original score: Dear Evan Hansen

Best revival of a play: Jitney

Best revival of a musical:  Hello, Dolly!

Best actor, play: Kevin Kline, Present Laughter

Best actress, play:​ Laurie Metcalf, A Doll's House, Part 2 

Best actor, musical:​ Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Best actress, musical:​ Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Best featured actor, play: Michael Aronov, Oslo

Best featured actress, play:​​ Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes

Best featured actor, musical: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!

Best featured actress, musical:​ Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen 

Best scenic design, play: Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong

Best scenic design, musical:​ Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Best costume design, play: Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes

Best costume design, musical: Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!

Best lighting design, play: Christopher Akerlind, Indecent

Best lighting design, musical:​ Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Best direction, play:​ Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

Best direction, musical: Christopher Ashley, Come From Away

Best choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand

Best orchestrations:​ Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen

With files from Steven D'Souza and Jessica Wong