Phoenix Theatre (venue)
16 February 2019 (released)
18 February 2019
When the world was watching the attacks on the twin towers, closure of American airspace meant that 38 planes were instructed to land in Gander, Newfoundland, a small island off Canada. With only 10,000 inhabitants, the people of Gander welcomed 7,000 people and 19 animals off the planes, cooking them three meals a day and supporting the passengers who were stranded there for five days in the wake of the disaster. The warm welcome of the inhabitants of Gander and the stories of the many lives that collided from around the world is the subject of Come From Away - a feel good musical about 9/11 if you can imagine such a thing.
Written in 2012 by husband and wife team, Irene Sankoff and David Hein it focuses on a number of real life stories of individuals involved, such as Beverley Bass, the first ever female captain and the romance of British business man Nick and Diane from Texas who met on the plane that was grounded in Gander and ended up marrying the following year. That’s the secret to this unashamedly ‘feel-good’ musical. It’s a story about ‘communities’ coming together during a crisis and the fact that it’s based on real people is likely to give it an even broader appeal.
This is very much a show about ordinary people in an extraordinary moment and Christopher Ashley’s direction is crisp and un-fussy. Similarly the set is simple and the dancing as ‘naturalistic’ as possible. There are no particular stand out tunes or singers, but they ebb and flow with the narrative, driven by the rhythms of the on-stage band with the folk sounds of the irish whistle, accordion and Bohdran adding a richness of sound to the keyboard and guitars.
The ensemble cast effortlessly move between the inhabitants of Gander (who have an accent that sounds more Irish than Canadian) to the passengers from all over the world. Although the show doesn't delve deep, the cast succeed in bringing individuality to each character as well as a sense that but for a roll of the dice, we could all be in another person’s shoes.
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