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Review: COME FROM AWAY at The Overture Center

Review: COME FROM AWAY at The Overture Center

See it before it departs Nov 20th

Everyone in my circle was a little envious that I was going to see Come from Away. I joined in on their excitement, but between you and I, I had known virtually nothing about this show. There is something liberating about coming into shows with zero preconceived notions about them. It's better for my personal experience and my review if I have no opinions going in. I have seen plenty of shows that I had no desire to see because they did not interest me but were phenomenal! Conversely, I have seen so many shows that I was excited about that I just did not care for at all. This show... was truly an exceptional show. But I get ahead of myself.

This may be the most difficult review I have written. There is a cast of thousands, played by 12 amazing actors. I fear that I will not be able to do them justice and give them all the credit they all deserve. Accept my apologies for this and understand that the few performances I highlight herein, does not do justice to the quality performances from everyone in the ensemble (including the musicians).

The story is about a little town in Newfoundland Canada that hosted thousands of stranded travelers after the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. It is a show about the strength of human compassion and kindness, and how far people will go to help one another in crisis. The people of Gander should be regarded as heroes. This is their story, and the stories of their unexpected guests.

I was emotionally affected when, nearly immediately after greeting each other in a café, someone rushes in and simply says to the mayor, "turn on the radio". Just writing this one impactful line gives me chills. Yes, I remember it well. I venture all of us alive at that time remember that moment. I was almost 40; I had friends in New York city. Life changed in a heartbeat. But this is not about me. This story is about all of us, and how, in the face of crisis, we can turn toward each other and do beautiful things. It is, of course, also about those who could not get home, or get word to or from home. This was their story. It was exceptionally well told and powerful.

Sprinkled into the story of what happened in this small town between September 11 and September 16, 2001, were the real stories of the people living them.

Kevin (Jeremy Woodard) and his partner Kevin (Ali Momen). Young, in love and far from home in a strange land.

Nick (James Kall) and Diane (Christine Toy Johnson), two people from opposite sides of the world, fate has thrust them together, will romance ensue?

Hannah (Danielle K Thomas), desperate for news of her son, a first responder in New York. The tension and love brought to this role was helped along by her relationship with Gander Townie Beulah (Julie Johnson) also the mother of a firefighter.

The misplaced Bob (James Earl Jones II, yes, they are related, they are distant cousins), worried about his wallet, and his race being held against him. For instance, should he really be taking the grills from people's back yards?

Lastly, and possibly most impactful, Ali (Ali Momen), a Muslin from Egypt, facing the fear of nearly everyone after the attacks. Lost, alone, often humiliated, Ali had a lot to teach us. Mercifully, most of us are learning and practicing those lessons.

The music is catchy and fresh. Pilot Beverly Bass (Marika Aubrey) singing "Me and the Sky" was an emotional high point in a show with a lot of great music in it.

While some of the characters felt as if they were written to be more two-dimensional Mayor Claude (Kevin Carolan) comes to mind, it did provide depth to the show and was played in such a way that there was no reason for me to suspend my disbelief. The dispute with Garth (Jeremy Woodward) over the bus strike was a bit campy, but added a level and a levity that helped propel the show in an amazing trajectory.

I can not stress enough that these actors also played many other roles, as did Kristen Peace (Bonnie), Harter Clingman (Oz), and Julia Knitel (Janice). After every actor listed in the program were the words, "and others". And there were many "others". Each member of the ensemble moved seamlessly between very distinct characters, so well, that I often did not recognize the actors. This was some of the best character work I have seen in a touring Broadway production.

These 12 actors have created the most perfect professional ensemble show I have ever seen. There was no stand out star of this show, there were no pro or antagonists. There was only circumstances and stories. Often reviewers say things like, "This is not a show to be missed!' "Catch it while you can!" and other such things, so I won't. But I will tell you that you will be missing out on some of the best theater I have seen. So, get your tickets, it's only "90 minutes without an intermission" and worth every second. This is a show I personally hope to see again and again.

Madison, Wis. (Nov. 1, 2022) - The national tour of COME FROM AWAY, a Broadway musical about the true story of the small town that welcomed the world, makes its Madison debut at Overture Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 20 in Overture Hall. COME FROM AWAY tickets are available at overture.org.

The touring production of COME FROM AWAY currently stars Marika Aubrey, Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Christine Toy Johnson, Julie Johnson, James Earl Jones II, James Kall, Julia Knitel, Ali Momen, Kristen Peace, Danielle K. Thomas, Jeremy Woodard, Jordan Barbour, Clint Butler, Kate Etienne, Amir Haidar, Phyre Hawkins and Cailin Stadnyk.

COME FROM AWAY features a book, music and lyrics by Olivier, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award winners and Grammy and two-time Tony Award nominees Irene Sankoff & David Hein, direction by Tony Award winner and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Christopher Ashley, musical staging by Olivier Award winner and two-time Tony Award nominee Kelly Devine, and music supervision by Olivier Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Ian Eisendrath.

COME FROM AWAY features scenic design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Tony Award nominee Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Olivier & Outer Critics Circle Award winner and Tony Award nominee Gareth Owen, orchestrations by Olivier Award winner and Grammy & Tony Award nominee August Eriksmoen, and music arrangements by Olivier Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Ian Eisendrath and casting by Telsey + Company.

COME FROM AWAY tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

On September 11, 2001, the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.

A "Best Musical" winner all across North America, the smash hit musical has won the Tony Award for "Best Direction of a Musical" (Christopher Ashley), 4 Olivier Awards (London) including "Best New Musical," 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including "Outstanding New Broadway Musical," 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including "Outstanding Musical," 4 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards (North American Tour) including "Best Production," 4 Helen Hayes Awards (D.C.) including "Outstanding Production of a Musical," 4 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including "Excellence in Production of a Musical," 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards including "Outstanding New Musical," 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including "Best New Musical," 3 Dora Awards (Toronto) including "Outstanding New Musical/Opera" and "Outstanding Production," and the 2017 Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Toronto).

The Grammy Award-nominated original Broadway cast recording of COME FROM AWAY is available digitally and in stores everywhere. Grammy Award winner David Lai, and Grammy Award nominees Ian Eisendrath, August Eriksmoen, Irene Sankoff & David Hein served as album producers.

Apple Original Films' filmed version of the Tony & Olivier Award-winning hit musical COME FROM AWAY, produced by eOne, Hasbro's entertainment studio, premiered globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, September 10, 2021. COME FROM AWAY, which marks the first Broadway show to be streamed by Apple TV+, is directed by Tony Award-winner Christopher Ashley, who directed the original Broadway production, and stars an ensemble cast led by members of the Broadway show. The live performance of COME FROM AWAY was filmed in New York at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in May 2021, where the Broadway production is staged, for an audience that included 9/11 survivors and front-line workers; and, employed over 200 people including members of the Broadway crew, staff and creative teams.

COME FROM AWAY is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff and Sue Frost), Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steve & Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff, Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden & Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler, Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael & Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri & Les Biller, Richard & Sherry Belkin, Marlene & Gary Cohen, Allan Detsky & Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H. Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura Little Theatricals, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment/Molly Morris & Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel/Marjorie & Ron Danz, Pamela Cooper/Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar/Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman/Lauren Stevens, Adam Blanshay Productions/Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill & Linda Potter/Rosemary & Kenneth Willman, and La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

COME FROM AWAY was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and presented in 2016 by Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC and Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, CA. COME FROM AWAY (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals' Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam, CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, and the Fifth Avenue Theatre in Seattle WA also provided development support.

Please visit: www.ComeFromAway.com


Connect with COME FROM AWAY

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComeFromAway/

Twitter: @Wecomefromaway

Instagram: @Wecomefromaway

Broadway at Overture is sponsored by American Family Insurance. Our community partner for COME FROM AWAY is Associated Bank. Overture is grateful for this community support that helps make these experiences possible.

OVERTURE CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Madison, Wis., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization that features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and four galleries where national and international touring artists, nine resident companies and hundreds of local artists engage people in nearly 700,000 educational and artistic experiences each year. With the vision to provide "Extraordinary Experiences for All," Overture's mission is to support and elevate our community's creative culture, economy and quality of life through the arts. overture.org



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