Review Roundup: COME FROM AWAY Lands in Los Angeles
Come From Away on tour has landed in Los Angeles! The touring production of Come From Away stars Kevin Carolan (Disney's Newsies), Harter Clingman (Peter and The Starcatcher), Nick Duckart (In the Heights), Chamblee Ferguson, Becky Gulsvig (School of Rock the Musical), Julie Johnson (Memphis), Christine Toy Johnson (The Music Man), James Earl Jones II (The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess), Megan McGinnis (Les Misérables), Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific), Danielle K. Thomas (Avenue Q), Emily Walton (August Osage County), Marika Aubrey, Jane Bunting, Michael Brian Dunn, Julie Garnyé, Adam Halpin, Aaron Michael Ray.
With a book, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award nominees Irene Sankoff & David Hein, Come From Away is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), musical staging by two-time Tony nominee Kelly Devine(Come From Away, Rocky), with music supervision by Grammy nominee Ian Eisendrath (Come From Away), scenic design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt (Act One), costume design by Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James (Jelly's Last Jam), lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Hamilton), sound design by Tony Award nominee Gareth Owen (End of the Rainbow), orchestrations by Tony nominee August Eriksmoen (Bright Star), music arrangements by Grammy nominee Ian Eisendrath and casting by Telsey + Company.
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.
Come From Away began performances on Broadway on February 18, 2017 and officially opened to critical acclaim on March 12, 2017 at Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street), and continues to play to Come From Awaystanding-room- only audiences.
The Tony Award-winning musical launched a Second Company in Canada with a sold out four-week engagement in Winnipeg and is currently playing to standing-room-only audiences in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
A "Best Musical" winner all across North America, the smash hit musical has won the Tony Award for "Best Direction of a Musical" (Christopher Ashley), 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including "Outstanding New Broadway Musical," 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including "Outstanding Musical," 4 Helen Hayes Awards (D.C.) including "Outstanding Production of a Musical," 4 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including "Excellence in Production of a Musical," 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards including "Outstanding New Musical," 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including "Best New Musical," 3 Dora Awards (Toronto) including "Outstanding New Musical/Opera" and "Outstanding Production," and the 2017 Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Toronto).
COME FROM AWAY was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theater. Come From Away (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals' Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam, CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, Steve and Paula Reynolds and The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle WA also provided development support.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Jordan Riefe, Hollywood Reporter: Tony nominee Jenn Colella from the Broadway cast leaves big shoes to fill as Beverly, the pilot, but Becky Gulsvig gives it her level best. She crackles with anxiety and emotionally engages the audience, speaking in a nasally southern accent that rounds out her character in her dialogue scenes and bleeds into her singing voice. Her "Me and the Sky," an aria dropped in late in the show about combatting sexism to be a pilot, is a high point.
Charles McNulty, LA Times: Becky Gulsvig might be insufficiently commanding as Beverley, the American Airlines captain, but the tale of this female pilot's path-breaking career is still rousing. Andrew Samonsky brings a welcome restraint (and fine voice) to his portrayal of Kevin T., whose relationship with Kevin J. (the strenuously flamboyant Nick Duckart) is severely tested by their shared ordeal. The love story between Chamblee Ferguson's Nick and Christine Toy Johnson's Diane may not be acted with much granularity, but the unexpected romance blossoms touchingly all the same.
Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly: But the performers and their seamless work as a unit make the show truly remarkable. Spinning and stomping through an effective array of tableaus, the cast moves swiftly between a dizzying collection of roles as actors bounce from Newfoundlander to British businessman to Texas mother to dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker to gay Angeleno to Egyptian immigrant. The skill required to move between these accents and their attached physicality is staggering; no character, however briefly they figure in the story, ever feels like a caricature or a thin sketch. Each moment feels deeply, thoughtfully considered, and the actors transition between them with such ease it feels more like a magic trick than a performance. I could tell you James Earl Jones III's Bob is funny and irreverent in the moments we need it most; that Becky Gulsvig's Beverley is inspiring and powerfully emotional singing "Me and the Sky"; that Chamblee Ferguson's British Nick is wry, warm, and achingly romantic - but it seems unfair to single anyone out. There may only be 12 actors up there, but the stage feels full of the richness and complexities of the 7,000 people who nearly doubled this town's population in the course of one night.
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: All of the ensemble are triple threat performers: Andrew Samonky, Nick Duckart, Julie Johnson, Danielle K. Thomas, Megan McGinnis, Chamblee Ferguson, James Earl Jones II, Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Becky Gulsvig, Christine Toy Johnson and Emily Walton, all of whom play various roles. Each has his or her turn in the spotlight but it is hard to forget especially Gulsvig "Me and the Sky" with her ode to women pilots and to all female role models. Nor is it easy to forget Samonsky as Kevin T and Duckart as Kevin J when they find out that other gays exist in this forsaken place and exclaim one of the funniest passages in the script, "We somehow ended up in the gayest town in Newfoundland...there must be something in the water." And one of the homophobic rednecks replies, "That's why I only drink the beer." Another sad but memorable character is Hannah and Thomas is defintely a standout as she anxiously tries to hunt down her firefighter son in NYC.
Dany Margolies, Daily News: The islanders, who speak with Irish-sounding accents, generously pour Irish whiskey as the onstage band serves up the Irish-tinged tunes. The musical staging, by Kelly Devine, likewise is Irish-influenced, the kind of dancing done by people who need to get their emotions out, rather than showing off triple pirouettes and jetés en tournant.