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Review: COME FROM AWAY on Apple TV+ is a Celebration of Humanity and Broadway

Come From Away premieres September 10 on Apple TV+.

Come From Away

On September 10, 2021, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, Apple TV+ is debuting Entertainment One, RadicalMedia, and Junkyard Dog Productions' stunning stage capture of Broadway's Come From Away. Filmed live at Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in May 2021, the film is both a celebration of humanity's penchant for kindness in the face of adversity and Broadway's attempt to make a post-pandemic related lockdown return to vibrancy.

Directed by Christopher Ashley, who won both the Tony Award and Laurence Olivier Award for directing the stage musical, the film expertly captures what makes Come From Away such a spellbinding theatrical event. Fearing a stage-to-screen capture may feel contrived, I was particularly concerned the cast doubling, which thematically showcases how similar we all are, would read as corny. Yet, Ashley's film direction makes his doubling concept for the stage work well in live capture too. He also balances the use of close-ups, full-stage shots, camera pans, and more to make the experience feel simultaneously filmic and intimate. Ashley's film plays beautifully at home and reminds us, especially those who haven't stepped foot inside a theater since before the pandemic, how magical experiencing live performance is.

Come From Away
Petrina Bromley, Emily Walton,
Jenn Colella, Sharon Wheatley,
Astrid Van Wieren and Q. Smith

Gifted with the musical's most memorable and endearing musical moment, Jenn Colella delivers an absolutely unforgettable performance singing "Me and the Sky." Building up to that moment, Colella expertly draws us into her characterization of Beverly Bass through her multiple conversations with her husband Tom and how, as a person with assigned authority, she employs generous amounts of empathy when communicating with the passengers of her plane.

Other standout performances include Q. Smith's portrayal of Hannah O'Rourke, a woman who spends much of the musical desperately trying to get in touch with her son who is a New York City firefighter, and Astrid Van Wieren's portrayal of Beulah Davis, a woman who befriends Hannah. The tender and warm dynamic these women share is incredibly touching. Portraying a heartwarming romance, Jim Walton, as Doug, and Sharon Wheatley, as Diane, add a layer of joyful ebullience to the production. Caesar Samayoa's deftly sympathetic portrayal of an Islamic Egyptian who becomes a quick target of Islamophobia serves as a poignant reminder of how cruel fear can make humans.

Come From Away
Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, De'lon Grant,
Joel Hatch, Tony LePage, Caesar Samayoa,
Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Emily Walton,
Jim Walton, Sharon Wheatley and Paul Whitty

As a true ensemble show, the entire cast of Come From Away must perform at their absolute best to make the material work. The Broadway cast delivers with aplomb in this film. Petrina Bromley's charismatic veterinarian Bonnie Harris, De'Lon Grants cautiously skeptical yet outspoken Bob, Joel Hatch's no-nonsense mayor of Gander Claude Elliott, Tony LePage's genial Kevin Tuerff, Emily Walton's green news anchor Janice Mosher, and Paul Whitty's charming Oz Fudge all add wonderful amounts of comedy and tangible heart to the production.

As the musical's plot unfolds and the 7,000 "plane people" are brought up to speed about the devastating events of September 11, 2001, the entire company sings "Lead us out of the darkness / Lead us somewhere to safety / Lead us far from disaster." These sentiments definitely define the ethos of the world in the moments, days, weeks, and months following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But, they are applicable to our ethos now as we stay constrained by a global pandemic where variant strains have almost completely dashed the hopes of a summer of liberation turning into a fall of freedom from the coronavirus. Without a doubt, the September 10, 2021 release date of Come From Away on Apple TV+ honors the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but it also comes at a time when many of us may need reminders to be compassionate and empathetic to others as we're all still struggling to be led out of the darkness and away from the disaster of COVID-19.

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COME FROM AWAY Plays Final Broadway Performance Today Photo
After 1,670 performances and 25 previews on Broadway, the Tony & Olivier Award-winning smash hit musical COME FROM AWAY will play its final Broadway performance this fall. Find out when the show is closing, how to get tickets & more.

COME FROM AWAY And New Yorkers for Parks Partner on Daffodil Project Photo
New Yorkers for Parks and the Tony & Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away joined forces to honor the lives lost to 9/11 by partnering in support of the 21st Annual Daffodil Project, New York's largest annual volunteer program, which brings together volunteers across New York City to plant daffodils as a living memorial to honor New Yorkers lost to 9/11.

Review: COME FROM AWAY Comes To Broadway On Tour at the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts  Photo
Once in a while, an event occurs that is so viscerally powerful that you will always remember exactly what you were doing when it happened.  Most people over 70 will remember what they were doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  People my age remember the Challenger disaster vividly (I was in my 6th-grade classroom watching the launch on t.v.).  Arguably even more tragic are the events that transpired on September 11, 2001.  From the dust of the wreckage, though, came hope and a unified country.  Come From Away is a story of that hope and unification.  It makes its Sacramento premiere this week in a special engagement that had been postponed since 2020. 

Photos: Go Inside The COME FROM AWAY Gander Concerts Photo
Go inside Come From Away: The Concert Steele Community Centre in Gander and September 19-21 at the Mary Brown's Centre in St. John's, which brought home the musical about the small Canadian town that temporarily doubled in population in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and tells the real-life stories of the people from there, and those who came from away. 

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From This Author - David Clarke

David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined running their read more about this author)

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