by Amy Toledano
The community of Gander, Newfoundland in Canada, a tiny town with a population of 10,000, were the last people to expect their airport full of planes of stranded passengers on the day of the 9/11 events. However, this is exactly what happened, and as the delightful new musical Come From Away reveals, the townspeople rallied together and did their best to provide comfort to those grounded during the tragedy.
At one hundred minutes, this one-act show expresses the hope and heartache of this harrowing time. An ensemble piece through and through, this brilliant cast seamlessly weave together the events of these five days with skill and pure commitment that is stunning to witness.
The show uses a simple set of wooden chairs and tables that are effective throughout, and along with minimal costume changes to signify the changes in characters, Come From Away is proof that powerful musicals do not need the bells and whistles to have impact. The entire cast play multiple roles and their stellar ability to create well defined, completely genuine characters is astounding. Their convincing Newfoundland accents flow into various others as the cast provide a vivid range of people and identities throughout this story.
Stand-out performances come from Rachel Tucker, who among other characters plays a pilot who has a heartbreaking moment of reflection during her solo song “Me and the Sky” as well as Jonathan Andrew Hume who plays both an Egyptian man who is subject to judgement and difficulty on his journey as well as one half of a Californian gay couple and a Newfoundland airport employee.
Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein have done a superb job with the book and score, creating a stunning show full of emotion and depth. The score is a brilliant tool that evokes feeling throughout and goes hand-in-hand with a gorgeous book that is both tender and hilarious.
It is a great feat to create a story from real life events that surround such a devastating time in history. It is an even bigger feat to create a story full of joy and hope, that truly exudes the power of people coming together, and rallying in the face of tragedy. There was not a dry eye in the house for this utterly moving show.
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