Just in from seeing "Come From Away" at the Ford's Theater in DC. "Come From Away" is a new musical based on the events that occurred in the town of Gander, Newfoundland between September 11 and September 16, 2001. When the international aviation network was grounded within hours of the attacks on 9/11, 38 planes from all around the world crossing the Arctic and North Atlantic were diverted to Gander, a town of 9,000 people with one of the largest airports on the planet, and suddenly there were 16,000+ people stranded there.
It's one of those stories that I honestly thought, a musical? What are the Canadian pair of writers smokin', eh? And whatever it was, it WORKED! For an uninterrupted hour and 45 minutes you are drawn into this story as it takes 12 actors who play over 50 characters in a non-stop Reel of macro and micro stories so effortlessly choreographed that you become that 13th member of the cast. The music is non-stop in the fashion of the post-modern musical with an equity among the ensemble first seen in "A Chorus Line". But unlike "A Chorus Line," the actors fall squarely into the category of the "Everyman/woman". They are extraordinarily talented folks like you and like me...like the citizens of Gander and the travelers that found themselves stranded in their midst.
I have to learn to bring Kleenex with me! As you might expect there were sad moments--but there were many happy moments, too. And the playwrights found the way to tell this story with a balance that honored the tragic events of that week, but also elevated the human spirit of survival, compassion and even a little redemption.
|As Gander's mayor, Joel Hatch forms the perfect foundation for all of the relationships to radiate from.|
|Certainly one of the most consistently stunning performances was delivered by Jenn Colella as the American Airlines first Female pilot.|
|Riding school bus to shelters.|
|participating the in the "kissing the cod" portion of a becoming a Newfoundlander ceremony!|
|Celebrating the life of service of the first woman to achieve Pilot status at American Airlines.|
|The budding love between Dallas divorcee Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and London petroleum executive Nick (Lee MacDougall) is one of the shows most endearing threads|
The music was beautiful and in turns reverent, but overall joyous. The tone throughout reflected the musical traditions of Newfoundland, and a desire to get up and dance accompanied many of the numbers. At the end the eight musicians took charge of the stage after a double uproarious standing ovation--one of the most spontaneous and unequivocal demonstrations of audience enthusiasm I have seen at a production in DC--and provided the standing audience with an encore that featured in turn each of the principle players, followed by a sort of duel between the violinist and guitarist.