For those of you who haven’t been living under a rock for the last four months like me, you’re well enough aware by now of an incredible new musical called Come From Away. As for those of you who are like me, and have only heard about this show over the last week or so, here’s my honest-to-God opinion of it.
Come From Away is a musical centered around the events which took place on and after 9/11. At 8:46 am on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Captain Beverley Bass’s plane along with 37 other flights were forced to land at an airport in Gander, Newfoundland after the American airspace became closed for all non-government entities. Over the next 100 hundred minutes, the listener is rollercoaster-ed through dozens of plot bunnies, as 7,000 displaced people from around the world try to make contact with loved ones and 9,000 Gander residents try to make them feel as “at home” as possible. At its core, this story is one of triumph of the human spirit and good conquering evil, even in the smallest of ways.
At first, I looked at the concept of this musical and laughed with shock. How insensitive – a musical about 9/11? Furthermore, as this show was advertised in its early months, it is a musical about sandwiches and gym floors, but in the most charming way possible.
Friendships between characters grow organically. A cast of twelve actors takes on the daunting task of telling nearly 16,000 stories from real people who made Gander and its surrounding townships their homes over those days post-9/11 when the American airspace remained closed. Each actor in the show portrays a minimum of two roles (“plane people” and Ganderites), many taking on even more than that.
Though the entire cast is phenomenal, Jenn Colella, as always, is a stand-out. Her soaring soprano-belted song Me and the Sky is an absolute show-stopper. Her ability to change from Captain Beverley Bass to Annette the schoolteacher with simply a raise of an eyebrow is astonishing to say the least. Honestly, if she doesn’t walk away with the TONY for Best Featured Actress this season, I would be completely and utterly shocked.
The only thing smaller than the cast was the Come From Away set. Though they’re certainly not going to walking away with any TONYs for set design, I did think the idea was clever. A set of twelve chairs and two tables was all the set was comprised of. Somehow, though, with the quick shedding of a costume piece or a shift of a table the viewer is transported from one scene to the next seamlessly. It’s simple and beautiful. What’s more, due to how simplistic the costumes and set pieces are, once the rights for this show become available to this public, Come From Away will be the perfect piece for any local community theatre with little to no budget.
I’ve never heard or seen something more beautiful or bizarre in my entire life. I mean, who would have thought that a musical about 9/11 would make any sort of sense? Yet, here I am, a week in, listening to it multiple times a day. I am completely obsessed. I laugh and cry every time I hear the soundtrack as if it’s the first time and it is rare that I can find a cast recording that causes me to have any sort of reaction like that in the first place. I look forward to when the rights to this show become available so that I can put this show on with my theatre company. Even though these things happened over fifteen years ago, it’s incredibly topical and relevant to what is going on today. There is, I daresay, as much racial tension if not more today, than immediately post-9/11. I think people all over the world could stand to learn a thing or two from the people of Gander and the kindness that that showed to folks of every color, creed, and orientation.
Every once in a while there comes a show that makes you feel genuine pride in being a part of the theater community and for me that show was Come From Away. Congratulations to the cast and crew that put together this remarkable piece of work and I look forward to seeing you all bring it home at the TONY Awards this season.
Just my thoughts for the day. Have you seen Come From Away yet? What was your greatest takeaway? Did you love it as much as I did? Drop a comment and let me know!
Have a wonderful day~