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Review: COME FROM AWAY at Morrison Center

Review: COME FROM AWAY at Morrison Center

The Tony Award-winning musical will run through October 2nd.

A common question I've heard throughout my life is, September 11, 2001? Personally, I was still a baby so I am unable to answer this question. I have however heard stories from family members and teachers, especially on the anniversary of the attacks. If you were to ask the people in the crowd for the first showing of "Come From Away" at the Morrison Center in Boise, Idaho, you would hear stories of dropping kids off at school, preparing for trips, or others on their way to work. None of those sharing their stories could have anticipated the way the world would change in a few short moments.

When the world froze, the residents of Gander, NewFoundland, Canada, and their sudden and unexpected guests wrote new stories about friendship, love, compassion, and humanity. The stories of Gander and their visitors starts with the grim events on the morning of September 11, 2001, but they hardly end with the events of that day or even the several days following. On that day, Gander grew in population from 7,000 to 16,000 within the span of a few hours. Thirty-eight planes from around the world were grounded in Gander due to the planes next stop or final destination being in the then closed air space of the United States of America. Based on real stories of those residing in Newfoundland and those stranded , "Come From Away" is inspired by the acts of service and empathy shared during the days 16,000 strangers experienced the shared trauma known as 9/11.

The entire story is told without interruption, on a single set, offering a seamless transition that demonstrates the connection between the residents and visitors. From actors changing characters within scenes, to costume changes happening before our eyes, the audience becomes part of the story. In my own opinion, this show was a masterclass in what it means to truly be human. The audience witnessed a population who had little to share, giving everything for those who were afraid, tired, and far from home. Giving their own homes and buildings as a temporary shelter for peace amidst the unexpected adversities of the world. Though overwhelmed themselves, those in Gander acted quickly by opening their doors, giving their time and food, gathering supplies, and offering a place for sanctuary and holy refuge. .

Written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the show is fast paced and enjoyable and while there are some darker undertones, Hein and Sankoff make sure there is room for moments of joy, light, and even levity. It is a beautiful demonstration of the potential for light to exist in dark situations. Stage lighting design was done by Howell Binkley, who passed away in 2021. The actors on stage fill the roles of several "characters" from residents of Gander to the stranded passengers at the change of a light. With choreography done by Kelly Devine the dancing on stage is never overly flashy to take away from the moments on stage , but still spark joy in seeing how the story progresses.

One of the things I thought made the show so fascinating was how every single actor on the stage looked like they were meant for the roles they played. Watching the effortless and seamless transition between the roles the actors played was remarkable. Some highlights through the production included Nick Duckart who played Kevin / Ali / and Others. Duckart's ability to move the audience was captivating, and according to an audience member, he had emotional power in his roles, invoking feelings of empathy in those attending. Jenny Ashman was one of the two understudies we had the privilege of seeing on stage. She was on for the role of Hannah and others. "I am Here" sung by Hannah had the audience completely speechless as we watched a vulnerable moment for the role and listened to the struggle those in the same shoes went through.

Jane Bunting was on for Janice and Others during the Tuesday show. Ms. Bunting impeccably portrayed the eager and nervous first day news reporter as she learns she's covering the "Plane People" as those on the 38 planes were affectionately known. Truly, you could see within the role her contagious energy and ability to bring Janice to life. It felt as if I was there with her as she went to report. One of the highlights of the show came from Marika Aubrey as Beverly and Others. Her performance with the rest of the women's ensemble in the song "Me and the Sky" was stunning and made for an incredible moment in the show.

You can catch "Come From Away" here in Boise until October 2nd. You can learn more about this production and the true story at®id=110& .

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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