BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY is a Much-Needed Reminder of the Human Spirit
You probably remember a few random details of your life on the day of the September 11th attacks.
Not just what you saw on the television--but who was with you, where you were, how you felt. On that day, 38 airplanes were redirected to a small Canadian town--Gander, Newfoundland--the site of a large airport the used to handle transatlantic refueling but hadn't much anymore.
On those planes were 7,000 passengers from all over, and they needed a place to stay. You've got a gay couple who aren't sure what the locals will think of them. A Muslim man who's quickly judged on his appearance. There's a mother of a New York firefighter, frantically trying to reach him. A seasoned female pilot trying to make sense of it all. To name just a few.
And there's the townsfolk from Gander, with a humble population of 10k or so. As the passengers sat for more than a day on their aircraft with no knowledge of why they landed, the community came together to ensure the "come-from-aways" (as they were called) had somewhere to eat, shower and sleep.
Directed by Christopher Ashley, who won the show's singular Tony Award for his work, Come From Away includes book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The show's premise comes from real-life interviews conducted by Sankoff and Hein on the 10th anniversary of the attacks when several plane passengers revisited Gander.
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.
The music has a folksy, pulsating vibe to it. Dialogue interspersed with haunting rhythms. The set's simplistically designed with a collection of tables and chairs, leaving the cast to lead with storytelling. But once they draw you in, it's tough to let them go.
At only 90 minutes with no intermission, you'll wish It were longer, but that's plenty of time for the show's message of hope and humanity to come across loud and clear.
Come From Away plays the Buell Theatre with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through Nov. 25. Tickets at DenverCenter.org.
Photos by Matthew Murphy