The events of September 11 are forever etched in our collective consciousness. It’s especially memorable for thousands of air passengers who were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland for four days when all air traffic in the United States was grounded after 9/11.
It’s an unlikely scenario for a Broadway musical, but “Come From Away,” which lands at the Segerstrom Center June 21-26, manages to tell a gripping story with characters close to our hearts and music that propels the audience. story while providing moving moments filled with emotion. that range from elation and fantasy to emotion and pathos.
“Come From Away” had its first worldwide engagements at the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theater in 2015, and opened on Broadway in March 2017, where it performed to standing-only audiences.
The joy of “Come From Away” is in the stories of ordinary people experiencing an extraordinary moment in time and how they survived emotionally, spiritually and physically.
The cast is a set of 12 actors who embody several characters. The memorable music is performed by an eight-piece band on stage. The simple decor and staging is perfect for the presentation style of the show.
Realization of “Come from afar”
How does the story of Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001 turn into a musical?
According to information from the Segerstrom Center, David Hein and Irene Sankoff â a husband-and-wife Canadian writing team â were living in New York on 9/11. The couple traveled to Newfoundland in September 2011 for the 10th anniversary commemoration of the pilots and “Plane People” who had returned to Gander. There they collected interviews from everyone they met and experienced the generosity of Newfoundlanders.
From there, they sorted through interviews, documentaries and letters from around the world. This surplus of material had to be rationalized. The playwrights asked themselves: âWhat is the story? What is the guideline? In 2012, the couple were invited to participate in the performance workshop for the inaugural year of the Canadian Music Theater Project at Sheridan College. They presented 45 minutes of material, basically the first half of the show. Fourteen student actors played over 100 characters and sang music from Newfoundland and around the world.
The musical traveled to the National Alliance of Musical Theater Festival in New York in 2013. David and Irene have established connections with major regional theaters across the country, including La Jolla Playhouse. Christopher Ashley, director, joined the team and the co-production with the Seattle Repertory Theater.
“Come From Away” then traveled to Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC and the Royal Alexandra Theater in Toronto before landing on Broadway. The cast of the series was reduced to twelve and the stories consolidated into one act.
“Come From Away” is an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission, but it’s in constant motion and a thrilling show from start to finish.
The last time “Come From Away” played at the Segerstrom Center in February 2019, the audience responded with instant standing ovations. Expect the same for this staging. It is a truly remarkable experience.
For tickets to âCome From Away,â visit SCFTA.org.