BWW Album Review: COME FROM AWAY (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is Resplendent and Uplifting
COME FROM AWAY tells the now infamous story (that you may have never heard of) about 38 planes and almost 7,000 passengers that were stranded in Newfoundland for a week after the attacks on September 11, 2001. The celebrated new musical features lyrics and music by Irene Sankokff and David Hein, and Come From Away (Original Broadway Cast Recording) captures the resplendent, raw emotions of the Broadway production. Just be warned: the uplifting story of human kindness and charity packs an emotional wallop on the album, so you'll probably want to listen to it with tissues in hand.
Sankokff and Hein have written a compelling musical that is told in 100 minutes. Their score and lyrics are rich, evocative, heartbreaking, and definitely inspiring. The characters they have created are based on real people that Sankokff and Hein interviewed and, like the people stranded in Newfoundland, the incredible generosity they experienced in Gander, Newfoundland. They used the 16,000 stories they collected to write this piece. So, even on the album, they present fully fleshed out characters with tangible and relateable emotions and fears.
Musically, Sankokff and Hein blend the theatrical pop style associated with Broadway with Irish folk music. This may sound like an odd choice if you're not familiar with the history of Newfoundland; however, many Newfoundlanders are of Irish descent. So, Sankokff and Hein keenly transport listeners to Gander, Newfoundland by using Irish folk music and instrumentation. Moreover, they utilize traditional modalities of Christian hymns, Jewish religious music, Hindi music, and Arabic music for moments when it is plot appropriate.
Each member of the cast expertly conveys the confusion of being grounded in Newfoundland. Doubling as the people of Gander, the cast also adroitly conveys the unfathomable hospitality of the people of Newfoundland as they welcome the stranded travelers (the "come from aways") with open arms, clean clothes, hot food, and even alcohol. As an ensemble, they masterfully blend their voices to tell these stories with heart, humor, and compassion. Every member of the cast and the band share their skill and instrument with indefatigable magnetism, drawing listeners in to the album with ease and profoundly stirring our hearts and souls.
Standout performance on the album come from Jenn Collela as Beverly, Q. Smith as Hannah, Astrid Van Wieren as Beulah, Chad Kimball as Kevin T., and Caesar Samayoa as Kevin J. While not all of these performances result in song length solos for these actors, they each utilize their moments of being front and center to play with listeners' heartstrings. On "I am Here," Smith sings with power and conviction as she searches for news about her son who is a firefighter in New York City. Her yearning and pain on the track is breathtakingly real, and it cuts through the listener. Collela's vocals on "Me and the Sky" are sublime. She starts the song with a quiet restraint, allowing her instrument to grow in strength and volume as she tells how her character relentlessly chased her dream of being a pilot and making history as the first female pilot for a commercial company in 1986.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see Come From Away; however, Come From Away (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is the best advertisement for the show imaginable. Each track is a musical theater gem, indicating that the musical is as wonderful as the critics and its word of mouth claim it is. This album will make you want to see the show immediately, so be prepared to figure out how quickly you can get to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater on Broadway after listening.
The Musical Company and Junkyard Dog Productions digitally released Come From Away (Original Broadway Cast Recording) on March 10, 2017. Physical copies were released on March 24. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold. For more information and tickets to the Broadway production, please visit http://comefromaway.com.