Come From Away is the uplifting new musical that has broken the mould and in doing so, created a smash hit. Winner of 4 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, this show rightly deserves its acclaim.
Most of us will remember exactly what we were doing when we first saw images of 9/11. The footage showed utter devastation, terror and sadness and evoked those exact feelings across the world. But that’s one part of a larger story.
There’s an untold side to that day that little ever knew of. A story that reminds you of what it means to be human. Come From Away reveals the light in the darkness with this joyous, raw musical.
The come from aways
In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. shut off its airspace so all planes were diverted to Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. Also known as The Rock, this remote island was suddenly going to see 7000 passengers from all over the world grounded on its runway.
And in the age of no social media, or even mobile phones, these passengers were confused, anxious and upset. Stranded on the aircrafts, they had no idea what horror had unfolded in New York and the residents of Gander knew they had to do something.
They set up buses to ferry passengers from the runway and prepared their community centres, schools and homes for guests. They gathered food, clothing and toiletries and wired dozens of landlines so these ‘come from aways’ could call home.
There wasn’t an inch of selfishness in the hearts of the islanders. Regardless of any cultural differences, language barriers or religious beliefs, only human nature mattered. They opened their hearts, minds and homes to complete strangers.
This musical embodies the Newfoundlanders community spirit with a cast that is equally as important and strong as each other. They come together to retell this heart-warming story and collectively become a force for good.
The stage is almost bare except for the cast, core to the story, and wooden flooring, furniture and branches reinforce the rural setting. And as with the fateful day, there is a real sense of urgency in the pace. Fast walking, talking and scene changes make you feel like you’re reliving this frantic day with them. The 100 minutes duration with no interval helps to maintain that speed.
And the music is simply infectious. Inspired by the Irish settlers, the sound is folky with fiddles and foot stomping to boot. The small band on stage creates the sense of a warm and welcoming pub. One that a small community might meet in every night to sing, dance, laugh and cry together.
Come From Away blew me away. It reminds you of the beauty of being human. And will make you cry with both happiness and sadness. I can’t wait to see it again!
Come From Away is playing at Phoenix Theatre in London.