Come From Away is playing at 5th Avenue Theatre through August 07, 2022. Get tickets and more info here.
Come From Away is the Broadway hit that started in Seattle, Washington. Produced locally by The 5th Avenue Theatre, the show is the “Little Engine That Could” and has done very well for itself. An audience favorite, Come From Away has currently returned to Seattle, and is not to be missed.
This true story is definitely a remarkable tale about a dark moment of history. On September 11, 2001, after aerial attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., all flights were grounded as Air Space over the United States was cancelled. More than 38 aircrafts of various sizes were forced to land in Gander, New Foundland. Gander used to have the largest airport on North America, and was used commonly for refueling before planes continued across the Atlantic. Nowadays, the airport is mostly deserted, but on September 11, more than 7000 people (more than the populace of Gander and surrounding towns) were forced to land. Gander was chosen in case any of the planes still had bombs on them, there were less people in the city than passengers on the plane. The “Plane People”, or those that “Come From Away” are from all parts of the globe and speak as many different languages. They are taken in by the town’s folk and are shown that even in the darkest moments of terrorism, humanity and kindness still prevail.
There are no real stars of this show as each leading cast member portrays several different roles throughout the musical. A gay couple – both named Kevin – (played by Jeremy Woodard and Nick Duckart) do very well at showing the need to hide their true selves in a strange environment, not knowing if they are friendly or hostile to their own identities. The ‘incident’ of 9-11 takes its strain on their relationship as they both react in different ways. Another couple, Nick and Diane (played by Chamblee Ferguson and Christine Toy Johnson) meet strictly because of the ‘incident’ and their relationship begins from this tragedy. Two other characters stand out and deserve mention. Hanna (played by Danielle K. Thomas) is the mother of a New York Fire Fighter who is trying to find out what has happened to her son. Ms. Thomas’ angst, fear and panic are shown brilliantly throughout the entire show but especially in the number, “I Am Here” where the character is sinking in a maelstrom of not knowing what is happening. Beverley (played by Marika Aubrey) is the Captain of an American Airlines forced to land in Gander. Ms. Aubrey brings the character to life easily and she shows with great enthusiasm and hesitance the joy that “Beverley” gets from being the First Female Pilot on American Airlines, and the love she feels for being a pilot. She expresses herself in a heartfelt manner that emotes the betrayal and shock at using the thing she loves most as the trigger for a world disaster.
The entire ensemble is excellent. They have to jump from one role directly into another, all the while keeping the characters distinctively separate and clear from one another. Kristen Peace, Harter Clingman, Steffi Didomenicantonio, James Earl Jones II, Kevin Carolan, and Julie Johnson (apologies to any accidentally left out) all need a mention and shout out to the various roles they all performed with expertise and skill.
Come From Away has its book, music and lyrics written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. While there is only one solo number (sung by Marika Aubrey) “Me and the Sky”, and only one duet, which could also be interrupted as a love song, (sung by Chamblee Ferguson and Christine Toy Johnson) “Stop the World”, the show is full of great music. There are tender songs such as “Prayer” that blends the prayers of different faiths together to show that unity of humankind in a situation of utter distress. There are campy and fun numbers such as “Screech In” where some of the “Come From Away” people become honorary citizens of Gander.
Come From Away (running time – two hours without intermission) is a feel good musical despite the dark subject matter it represents. It shows the human kindness of strangers at a time when desperation and fear prevailed. The fact that it is a true story makes it all that much better in restoring anyone’s faith in humanity.
Come From Away had it’s original out of town debut in Seattle. The musical opened on Broadway on March 12, 2017 and ran for over seven months. Nominated for seven Tony Awards (in the 2017 season) including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, it won one Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.