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Come from Away review at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York – ‘daring and originality’

This is the busiest Broadway season for musicals in recent memory. There are 10 new titles debuting there across the year, but Come from Away towers over the rest in terms of originality and daring.

Not based on a pre-existing film or book, it takes its story from a real-life crisis experienced by travellers aboard 38 aeroplanes who were en route to the US on 9/11 – and found themselves suddenly re-routed to the tiny town of Gander in Canada’s Newfoundland when US airspace was summarily closed.

A small community, usually populated by 3,000, suddenly had to take in nearly 7,000 more visitors, where they were forced to spend four days there until the airspace opened again.

The musical personalises and humanises an event that had far bigger repercussions on the world than that of the inconvenience of several thousand air passengers. Amid the tragedy, the human spirit came to the fore.

Musicals are good at creating communities: they herd stories together, held in the embrace of music. Sometimes it’s a shotgun marriage, where the form strains against the content, but here, in this poignant true-life story of instant community building in crisis, there is something bigger: a sense of hope.

Husband and wife writing partners Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s folk-based score has an easy affability and an earnest sincerity. Christopher Ashley’s production gives the show a homespun honesty, and the 12-strong ensemble company, each of whom plays multiple characters,  invest it with real feeling and emotion. This is particularly true in the story of a passenger whose son was a New York firefighter, and another passenger of Middle Eastern origin who initially becomes a figure of suspicion to his fellow travellers.

Verdict
A musical that tells an unusual, unfamiliar 9/11 story with tact and tremendous feeling

Production

Production
Come from Away
Venue
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
City
New York
Starts
February 18, 2017
Ends
December 30, 2017
Press night
March 12, 2017
Book
Irene Sankoff, David Hein
Music
Irene Sankoff, David Hein
Lyrics
Irene Sankoff, David Hein
Director
Christopher Ashley

Set
Beowulf Boritt
Lighting
Howard Binkley
Sound
Gareth Owen
Costume
Toni Leslie James
Cast includes
Petrina Bromle, Geno Carr, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee MacDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q Smith, Astrid van Wieren, Sharon Wheatley
Producer
Junkyard Dog Productions, Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith and Brant Theatricals, Steve and Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff, Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden and Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler, Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael and Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri and Les Biller, Richard and Sherry Belkin, Gary and Marlene Cohen, Allan Detsky and Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura Little Theatricals, Carl and Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment, Molly Morris and Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel, Marjorie and Ron Danz, Pamela Cooper, Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar, Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman, Lauren Stevens, Just for Laughs Theatricals,Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill and Linda Potter, Rosemary and Kenneth Willman, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre
Running time
1hr 30mins