Come From Away - a wonderful new big bear hug of a musical comes in under the radar
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
You are on an International flight. Heading back to the USA. Suddenly you are being diverted because of an emergency in NYC. It is September 11, 2001. American airspace has been closed and you are headed to Gander, Newfoundland in Northeastern Canada somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
This is the basis for COME FROM AWAY a big bear hug of a musical – a true story based on interviews of the inhabitants of Gander and some of the 7000 passengers displaced – 38 planes full of people longing to be home and wondering if they will ever get there.
Just go. This jet paced musical with a heart of gold will make your spirits soar with its uplifting and gentle message of sharing with strangers and giving a helping hand when needed most. Including the pets on board.
When bad things happen we all need a helping hand. No ifs ands or buts. Just get out there and help. The people of Newfoundland did just that. Miraculously finding food and clothing and shelter for the various types of people. Various religions. Various tastes in food. Gay. Straight. Old. Divorced. Worried moms. With anxiety growing every minute they took in all. No questions asked. Sharing what they had with strangers and making them feel at home while stranded in this odd place.
Canadians Irene Sankoff and her husband David Hein have written the book, music and lyrics of this wonderfully put a smile on your face musical. A compilation/documentation of true events. The actual tragedy lurks but is never exploited. A cross section of humanity. A melting pot of diversity creating a new 5 day community.
What emerges is the graciousness of the townspeople and the getting to know you feeling of the passengers with them. There are hook ups and break ups. And a fantastic number that introduces the displaced people to the customs of Newfoundland where you get to kiss a Cod. It’s beautifully amazing.
As is the score. With a nod to Riverdance and “My Heart Will Go On” the in the wings band fiddles itself into our hearts with a sound all its own. You want to get up and dance to celebrate and enjoy life with all of them.
All twelve expert performers who play a variety of parts – switching seamlessly back and forth between townsfolk and passengers. They deserve an award for BEST ENSEMBLE EVER: Petrina Bromley, Geno Carr, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee MacDougal, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren and Sharon Wheatley.
This one hour and 40 minute exuberant, extremely funny, respectful, real and moving musical is cinematically directed with its focus never lost by Christopher Ashley on a natural wooded unit set by Beowulf Boritt with some chairs on a revolving stage and super fantastic lighting by Howell Binkley.
The musical staging by Kelly Devine is spectacular. Making the mostly ensemble numbers make complete sense. Exciting and clear. A mixture of tears and happiness.
Everyone can connect with some aspect of this production.
Go. You will love COME FROM AWAY. You will stand up and shout out and support our Canadian friends who have delivered this musical with care and love. A lesson for us all. Unless you are, of course, President Donald Trump.
Welcome to the Rock. At the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
Photo: Kevin Berne
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