BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY at Des Moines Performing Arts: Going Back to the Rock
In 2017, I decided in preparation for hosting my first Tony Party to listen to the nominees for Best Musical and Revival. Listening to these shows introduced me to "Come From Away," which opened at Des Moines Performing Arts on January 28. As I listened to the fantastic music, I fell in love with "Come From Away." I knew once the tour opened, I would want to see this show as soon as possible. When I looked at the itinerary of the first year of the national tour, the closest location was Omaha. So A few friends and I went to see the show. From the moment the music started, I was transported to Gander, and before I knew it, the show was over. As soon as I left, I was planning my next trip to Gander, which would be the tour stop in Chicago. I'm so excited that it has finally made its way to Des Moines.
Most people can tell you exactly where they were on September 11, 2001, when they found out about the terror attacks. I still remember when the planes were grounded. But until seeing "Come From Away," I never thought about what happened to the planes trying to fly to the US. This show tells their story. Many of these planes were routed to smaller cities to minimalize the casualties should anything happen. While this may seem like a story of fear, it does the opposite and tells one of hope. For five days, the City of Gander almost doubled in size as the town of around 9000 took in 38 planes containing approximately 7000 people. It is about how this town and the surrounding communities opened their hotels, stores, schools, and homes to these strangers. As well as the impact it had on the community members, as well as those on the planes.
Returning to the rock, I was excited to see what would stand out to me this time. The first thing I noticed this time was the intricate movement that Kelly Devine brought to the musical staging of this show. I feel her staging gives every audience member their own unique experience at the show. The first time I saw the show, I sat at the back of the theatre, which was a beautiful experience. Sitting towards the front was a different yet fascinating experience. This time I was able to see the nuances to the movement. Both experiences are spectacular in their own ways.
Another fun part of returning to the rock is seeing new interpretations of the characters in the show. At this performance, there were six people who I had not seen in the show before. Each of their interpretations allowed me to think about their characters in a different way than I had before. One of these actors is Julia Knitel in the role of Janice Moser. The urgency she brings through the first part of the show allowed me to see how quickly the people of Gander reacted to the situation. When she delivers her line, "I don't know that I can do this anymore," leading into "On The Edge," I understood the impact on the people of Gander.
Two performances made Tuesday evening's performance one I won't soon forget. The first was getting to see Harter Clingman, who played Oz perform on the stage he had grown up seeing national tours. He does an amazing job of bringing humor to the many characters he plays through the show. The other was Marika Aubrey's heartfelt performance as Beverly Bass. There were so many nuances to the role that I had not noticed before. One of those nuances was how you heard her relieved to talk to her husband finally, yet have a comforting tone as she spoke of her kids during "28 hours." The nuances she brought to the character paid off in the second half of the show, where she pours her heart out during "Me and the Sky." The song tells the story of Beverly Bass' life, who happened to be in attendance at the show that evening.
Whether it's your first time seeing visiting the rock or returning for the 148th time, "Come From Away" is a show that is powerful and continues to inspire everyone who sees it. This show celebrates the best of what people can be during the worst of times. There is a talkback session offered after every performance that I would recommend everyone attend. While the show may have just arrived in Des Moines, it is scheduled for departure February 2. To find out more about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit https://desmoinesperformingarts.org/events/come-from-away/
Review written by DC Felton
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