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COME FROM AWAY's Irene Sankoff and David Hein Reveal the Challenge of Telling the Islanders' Stories

COME FROM AWAY's Irene Sankoff and David Hein Reveal the Challenge of Telling the Islanders' Stories

Come From Away has been 2017's little musical that could. Soon after opening at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, the show earned seven Tony nominations (picking up one for director Christopher Ashley), coming as quite a shock to the creative team that has been nurturing the project since the beginning.

Recently Richard Ridge sat down with the cast and creators for SAG-AFTRA Foundation and BroadwayWorld's Conversations Q&A series. In speaking with creators David Hein and Irene Sankoff, they discussed how they made the painstaking decision of which stories would be featured in the final draft of the show.

Sankoff explained, "It was horrendously painstaking! Our first draft was 100 pages before people even got off the plane because there were just so many stories to tell. And how did we do it? Well, we spread out all the stories in this cabin in Northern Ontario, and we put stories of food in a pile, relationships in a pile. And then early on we decided it wasn't a documentary and we weren't going to be able to make characters if we included all the stories we wanted to include. And we really did try to include as many as possible. Even in some of the town hall scenes people are yelling one line that came from four pages of lines in a particular draft!"

Hein went on to say, "There's a story about the air traffic controllers who had nothing to do because there was nothing flying for five days, so they made chili constantly for everyone. And we wanted to get that in there. And it used to be several scenes and it eventually got whittled down to one character's line saying, 'I brought some chili for you!' But it was important for us to get that in there because when the air traffic controllers came and sat in the audience and said, 'You got in the chili!' we are recognizing that they did that.

Check out the rest of the conversation here.

The Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away is a "Best Musical" winner all across North America. Come From Away tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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