Review Roundup: COME FROM AWAY on Tour, What Did Critics Think?
Come From Away Tour Cast
A true ensemble piece, the tour cast of "Come From Away" includes: Kevin Carolan (Claude and Others), Harter Clingman (Oz and Others), Nick Duckart (Kevin J./Ali and Others), Chamblee Ferguson (Nick and Others), Becky Gulsvig (Beverly and Others), Christine Toy Johnson (Diane and Others), Julie Johnson (Beulah and Others), James Earl Jones II (Bob and Others), Megan McGinnis (Bonnie and Others), Danielle K. Thomas (Hannah and Others), Andrew Samonsky (Kevin T. and Others), and Emily Walton (Janice and Others). The tour's cast of standbys include: Marika Aubrey, Jane Bunting, Michael Brian Dunn, Julie Garnyé, Adam Halpin and Aaron Michael Ray.
Los Angeles Reviews
Charles McNulty, LA Times: The performers who fare best find their characters not in the flat or twanging accents but in moral constitutions and in quieter truths. Julie Johnson, who plays Beulah, the woman who turns her academy into a shelter for hundreds of stranded passengers, and Danielle K. Thomas, who plays Hannah, a mother swamped with worry about the fate of her New York firefighter son, exemplify this best in their scenes together.
Maureen Lee Lenker, EW: 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.
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: Sankoff and Hein have also written the passionately surging music and lyrics. I have never seen such an even and steady flow of dialogue to song and back in a show. Lyrics and words blend together as if in one continuously smooth monologue. It is so well coordinated by both writers/composers that you are pulled in, held onto and never allowed to let go.
Jordan Riefe, The 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.
Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: This musical does not need flash; it does not need huge production numbers or sparkly costumes. It has something much more important-it genuinely captures the power of the human spirit in times of crisis, reminding us all that even when it may seem like the world is ending, somewhere in a tiny town no one has heard of people are performing selfless acts that will affect generations to come.
Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema: As the world becomes more crowded, divided, and ill-mannered, Come from Awayis a lovely reminder of how good it feels to be accepted and embraced. Just holding the door open for someone, or using your damned turn signal, may be the beginning of the revolution we're all ultimately seeking: when the human race becomes the humane race.
San Francisco Reviews
Ilana Walder, Stark Insider: Everyone plays a dizzying array of characters, switching accents, accessories, and life stories in the blink of an eye. Individual performers shine in brief solos: Marika Aubrey devastated as the mother of a missing firefighter in "Here", Becky Gulsvig made me want to stand up and cheer in her girl-power tale of becoming American Airlines' first female captain ("Me and the Sky"), and James Earl Jones II's confessional line deliveries had me cracking up. But the musical's most memorable moments are when the entire cast's voices join in harmony, in the ear-worm-inducingly catchy "Welcome to the Rock," the exuberant "Screech In," and the intricately layered "Prayer."
Jay Barmann, 7x7: Come From Away is a moving surprise with its lively pace, authenticity, and the uniqueness of its tale and characters-all keys to its near two-year success in New York. Then there's the buoyant, Irish-inflected music by Hein and Sankoff, beginning with the rollicking opening number "Welcome to the Rock." That song, along with multiple other ensemble numbers like "Screech In" (performed in the town bar) and the finale, are the anchors of the show as well as its melodic highlights. Also good is a mid-show solo number, "Me and the Sky," sung by Beverley (Becky Gulsvig), an American Airlines pilot and a pioneer female captain in commercial flying circles; the piece becomes a small anthem of women's empowerment, as idiosyncratic as her story is.
Robert Sokol, San Francisco Examiner: The married team of David Hein and Irene Sankoff have written a unicorn of a hit musical out of the unlikely circumstance of the closing of U.S. airspace after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. More amazingly, they have taken one of the darkest moments of modern history and inverted it into a shining, exuberant, and relentlessly entertaining and instructive example of our highest possible selves as a species.
Karen D'Souza, The Mercury News: Perhaps the most memorable story belongs to Beverly Bass, the first female captain in American Airlines history, played with depth and nuance by Becky Gulsvig. Her rendition of "Me and the Sky" harnesses the soaring power of an anthem. Certainly the onstage band sweeps us away with the sheer toe-tapping nature of the score. The joyousness of the piece is unmistakable and infectious.
Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: One by one their individual stories are added to the larger one of how the kindness of strangers can make you feel welcome even in the worst of circumstances and really, how much more alike we are than different. In one of the most touching scenes, Andrew Samonsky, who plays Kevin T, one half of a gay couple (Nick Duckart plays his partner, Kevin J.) remembers a hymn he'd almost forgotten, and he begins to sing it. Others from different faith traditions begin to sing and pray as well - each in their own way, poignantly demonstrating the universality of the holy.
Jay Irwin, BroadwayWorld: With a somewhat pop score influenced with a folk and country feel of the island, you can't help but be swept away into the show where you'll want to be and Islander too. Even without prompting, by the end the audience was clapping along, aching to be a part of the music. And it's no wonder as the show gets you so invested in it with laughter and tears. Oh yes, oh so many tears. Bring the tissues. Christopher Ashley's brilliant direction still shines through as the cast seamlessly transforms every inch of a seemingly bare stage into a bar, a plane cargo hold, a hotel room, an academy gymnasium, a plane interior, and so much more.
Misha Berson, Seattle Times: The cohesive touring ensemble (rounded out by Harter Clingman, Emily Walton and Becky Gulsvig as dauntless airline pilot Beverley Bass) fires on all jets, as does an onstage band that works in the Celtic sounds of tin whistle, accordion, hand drum and fiddle.
Eric Andrews-Katz, Equality 365: The book, music and lyrics are written by married couple Irene Sankoff and David Hein. While there aren't many hummable tunes (in fact there is only one real solo*), the music is extremely hauntingly beautiful at times while being rhythmically catchy at others. A lot of the music serves as background during [mostly] spoken parts of the show, but like any other song in a musical, they definitely serve the purpose of promoting the storyline.
John Harding, DC Metro Theater Arts: Director Christopher Ashley manages to suggest the play's major settings with just a nondescript backdrop, lighting cues and a stage full of chairs. Ashley gives us an evening of theatrical magic at its most basic and satisfying, forgoing fancy computerized sets and effects to let the audience exercise its own imagination.
Ted Hoover, Pittsburgh Current: What's so remarkable about Come From Away is that the writers know exactly how far they can push toward sentimentality without ever tripping over themselves; they've created characters (all of whom are based on real people) who exist on a level of theatrical honesty that's rare. When you find yourself flooded with tears at the end, you don't feel like you've been manipulated into it.
Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post Gazette: The onstage band of eight musicians fuels the action throughout, with cinematic underscoring, foot-stomping beats, soulful strings, playful pipes ... They are the backbone of the musical.
Dylan Shaffer, BroadwayWorld: Come From Away intrinsically handles a delicate subject. The September 11th attacks elicit strong emotions and fears from audience members almost two decades after they took place. This production, however, mentions the attacks themselves sparingly and respectfully, not dwelling on the pain and tragedy but rather commemorating and exhibiting the faith in humanity that transpired from the community. Even still, there are scenes that leave you nearly in tears.
John Wenzel, The Know: Compared to most bang-for-your-buck stage behemoths, "Come From Away" feels like a compact affair at an hour and 40 minutes. A single set - composed of lofty trees, spinning tables and chairs, and a versatile, cleverly lit wall - provides the backdrop. There's no intermission during its essentially one-act arc, which is front-loaded with exposition amid a dizzying character shuffle that also firmly establishes the cast's versatility.
Chris Arneson, BroadwayWorld: The musical plays with just an ensemble of 12, somewhat encapsulating the spirit of community brought on by the show. No single character is a lead, and multiple characters are played by the same actors. While you may expect something a bit more somber from a show focusing on a tragic event, it turns out to be a celebration of humanity, a warm reminder of what can happen when we take care of each other
Kelsey Lawler, BroadwayWorld: The only thing missing from this constantly-flowing staging is the chance to applaud. Save for the show-stopping jig, "Screech In," there's no other momentary pause for praise - even though Becky Gulsvig deserved some for her exquisitely-belted "Me and the Sky." Hopefully for the actors, the audience's easy laughs and rapt attention are some consolation; everyone in this touring company is deserving of praise.
"I am Here" highlights a mother's fear on her first trip who's unable reach her firefighter son in NYC. It is beautifully sung and acted by Danielle K. Thomas whose fierce determination to find him while thousands of miles away overpowers any sense of despair or self-pity.
Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant: The talk is fast and rhythmic. There's much movement, a lot of stomping and arm-waving. Everyone does Canadian accents at one time or another, with uneven results. But the stories they tell are engrossing: of disorientation, wonderment, anger, loss, love and community.
Nancy Sasso Janis, Patch: While there was some actual choreography, the quick rearrangement of mismatched wooden chairs and the actors/musicians on those chairs held a special choreography of its own. With the beautiful lighting design of Howell Brinkley, it was all fascinating to watch.
Kat Boogaard, Post Crescent: There really aren't enough words to adequately capture the talent packed into this cast. It's a demanding show in that each performer fulfills numerous different roles. They're required to seamlessly switch between characters (and accents) at a moment's notice. You'd think that format would inspire confusion, but these actors deliver compelling and convincing performances in each part they play.
Warren Gerds, WeareGREENBAY.com: There is only one full-through, one-story song in the show, "Me and the Sky," with Becky Gulsvig resonating as she unfolds the life of the determined pioneering pilot Beverley Bass. The other songs are multi-colored as they reveal perspectives of many people caught in overwhelming circumstances. The music captures the essence of the Gander region, too - a rainbow of folk music colors.
About "Come From Away"
How To Get Tickets
"Come From Away" will be putting many more pins on the map as they continue their tour in Orlando, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and more! For a complete tour schedule and ticket information, tap here.
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