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BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition

BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition

It's been 19 years since 9/11. I remember everything about that day. Like everyone else old enough to understand the meaning of the attacks, the memory is visceral, deep in my gut, unrelenting in its horror. It's funny - upsetting really - how it feels like it takes the very worst circumstances to ignite empathy, and motivate generosity and kindness that's deeply deserved without incident or attack. Or perhaps it's just that in those times of darkness, we pay more attention to the good in people; we actively highlight their compassion and kindness because it helps us survive.

COME FROM AWAY tells the uplifting story of a small town in the middle of nowhere that doubled in size overnight by welcoming rerouted travelers as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The musical is a celebration of the good in people during a complex, chaotic disaster. COME FROM AWAY is one of those theatrical rarities that ought not be sold by speaking of its heaps of awards or accolades, but by its ability to present the human condition.

Do not miss this masterpiece.


COME FROM AWAY recounts the true story of 38 planes, carrying 6,700 passengers, who were rerouted to the isolated, tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I believe that on that tragic day, you were a student in the Theatre Nepean Acting Program at the University of Western Sydney. As a 20 year old Australian, what was your experience of 9/11?

My experience & knowledge of both events is embarrassingly late. I was asleep when the towers were hit. I had a voice assessment at drama school the next day and wanted an early night. My father actually woke me up, as my older brother had recently returned from living in NYC, and he was quite emotional at how life can suddenly just change in an instant. The next day, our assessment was cancelled, and we all sat in a circle talking about how scared we were. Even in a place as far away as Australia, there was a sense that terrorism could now find us.

When and how did you first learn about Operation Yellow Ribbon?

I didn't learn about Operation Yellow Ribbon until 16 years later, when an audition brief came my way in Manhattan, and I thought I ought to go see the show. I didn't know a thing about it. I came home that night and told my husband how perfect this show was, and how incredible the story is... and thankfully, I now get to tell it every night.

Tickets to the Houston run of COME FROM AWAY are nearly sold out! Tell us about the experience of being in a show that everyone wants to see. What is it about this particular show that resonates with audiences?

The energy that this show gives and takes is a very true connection between the stage players and our amazing audiences. They bring their collective experiences and memory into the theatre, and it walks quietly alongside the story inside their minds. When they stand at the end of the show - and I am humbled to say they always do - we can feel quite tangibly that they are standing for kindness. They are standing for compassion. For generosity. For connection. It's a very special show, and each one of us is keenly aware of our responsibility and great privilege to serve these characters and these events. We never take it for granted.

BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition

The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy.

You have extensive stage and screen experience; do you prefer one medium over the other?

Oh, I love it all. I just love my job. I can hand-to-heart say that I have enjoyed and learned and loved every single project on my resume - and that's a pretty cool claim. From TV guest spots, voiceover, film, pub theatre and commercial musicals... I just feel so lucky I get to play!

Why did you want to perform in COME FROM AWAY? Tell us about the experience of traveling America with this very special show.

I wanted to be part of Come From Away specifically because it is a "team sport," so to speak. Twelve players passing the ball. Working together. Sharing the load. I love that complicité and camaraderie. As for the travel, it's a gift. As much as it means we move and tech and have more variables than any of the other productions, I reckon we also gain the widest insight. We are the only company to experience audiences all across America and Canada - that is a true honor. It also means we get to be dorky tourists together and have adventures to museums and restaurants and hikes. It's tremendous.

BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition
The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy.

This work is about an important historic, deeply personal, and heavy moment in time. How do you manage the weight of performing in such a serious, meaningful show, each and every night? What do you do to unwind? Tell us how you find levity!

As meaningful as the show is, we walk away with feelings not dissimilar to what our audience is feeling at the bows - a sense of hope and humanity. And hunger. We are usually hungry after...! We have movie nights (curated by our Mayor, Kevin Carolan), poker nights, got to the gym, have dinner parties and adventures to see local sights. All the other companies around the world go home to their usual digs, see their families, but for us, we are each other's tour family, so we do hang out a lot outside of the show. It's a rare week that there isn't some sort of fun group activity planned.

While the subject is stark, the message of COME FROM AWAY is pure light - it's about compassion, kindness, acceptance, and the very best of humanity. Why are these themes so important for audiences today, 19 years after the tragic event on which it was based?

Those themes will never not be important. These are the qualities that connect us and give us purpose. Any tragedy tends to bring out the very worst, but also the very best in people. It's important to commemorate the light in any darkness.

BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition
The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy.

How do you hope audiences feel when they leave the Hobby Center after the show?

I know they will feel joyful and wistful - and ready to maybe do something kind for someone the next day!

We have watched in horror as bushfires have devastated Australia. How are you, your friends, and family coping? COME FROM AWAY is about the mammoth impact of small kindnesses. What act or kindness can Houstonians take to make a difference for your beautiful home?

I think I can speak for Australians when I say that we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people all around the world, in donating much needed funds to rebuild after the bushfires. That light from people in times of tragedy does keep rising to the surface. To anyone reading this in Houston that donated or offered help - thank you. Truly. We are all more or less the same, no matter what patch on this earth we call home, and it's lovely to think we can all help one another, even as strangers across the sea.


Catch Marika and the cast of COME FROM AWAY March 3-8 at the Hobby Center. For tickets and information, please visit https://houston.broadway.com/ or call 713-315-2400.

BWW Interview: Marika Aubrey of COME FROM AWAY on the Celebration of Compassion, Chaos and the Human Condition
The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy.

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