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Review: COME FROM AWAY at ASU Gammage

We are here at the edge of a moment

Review: COME FROM AWAY at ASU Gammage

My heart has been profoundly impacted by this beautiful show. I cry every time I listen to the cast recording, I sobbed my way through the recording on Apple TV, and I immediately began to cry as the first note was played. September 11, 2001, was a horrific day in international history and Come From Away allows us to remember the tragedy and shine a light on some of the beauty that came as a result of the events of that horrific day.

Come From Away tells the story of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador. Gander is home to one of the largest airports in the world where airplanes stopped to refuel before continuing their journey. Now that airplanes have fuel tanks big enough to last the whole flight, the need for the Gander airport has diminished. On September 11, 2001, 38 planes were re-routed to Gander after the US airspace closed. A town of about 7,000 people doubled in size almost immediately. The "plane people" were given food to eat, clothes to wear, access to phones and the internet, and were welcomed into homes until the airspace reopened.

There is so much to love about this production: the simple set, the small cast playing multiple roles, the ingenious direction, the band performing on stage, the precision of the choreography, the rotating stage, I honestly do not have a bad thing to say. Admittedly, I have loved this show from the second I heard it, so I had high expectations going in and I left the theater feeling fulfilled and hopeful. Until I tried to get out of the Gammage parking lot...oof.

This cast is exceptional. It is no small feat to play several characters but each character is unique. The show moves so fast that the characters become someone else by changing a piece of clothing and shifting their accent. It's truly brilliant in its simplicity. The cast sounds incredible together; there are very few solo numbers, but each cast member has a chance to shine and their voices are sublime as soloists and as a group. The music is integral to this production and helps keep the momentum going, but the quiet moments are profound. This cast shares an incredible chemistry that extends to the audience. All of us are islanders by the time the show ends.

The show is also quite funny. With a heavy topic such as this, it is nice to find moments to laugh. The writing and comedic timing of the cast allows the audience to feel the weight of the tragedy, but also delight in the beauty of friendship, community, and humor. It was so nice to sit in the auditorium and hear so many people genuinely laughing despite the subject matter.

The Company that makes up this cast is phenomenal. Kristen Peace, Harter Clingman, Marika Aubrey, Steffi DiDomenicantonio, James Earl Jones II, Kevin Carolan, Jeremy Woodard, Chamblee Ferguson, Nick Duckart, Danielle K. Thomas, Julie Johnson, and Christine Toy Johnson exist as a cohesive unit, no one can succeed without the others. This is truly an ensemble piece that requires implicit trust. I'm sure they have done this show hundreds of times, but their energy, excitement, poise, talent, and skill reached beyond the rafters of Gammage Auditorium. Each voice piercing to the very soul of those listening. You really must experience it for yourself.

Directed by Christopher Ashley, with musical staging by Kelly Devine, Come From Away is not to be missed. Come From Away plays at the ASU Gammage Auditorium through June 19. You can buy tickets HERE. Please do not miss the opportunity to see this amazing cast, incredible band, and a story that will warm your heart.

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

The Band:

Music Director/Conductor/Keyboard/Accordion/Harmonium: Cameron Moncur

Whistles/Irish Flute/Uilleann Pipes: Isaac Alderson

Fiddle: Kiana June Weber

Electric/Acoustic Guitars: Billy Bivona

Acoustic Guitar/Mandolins/Bouzouki: Martin Howley

Electric/Acoustic Bass: Sean Rubin

Bodhran/Percussion: Steve Holloway

Drums/Percussion: Ben Morrow

The Crew:

Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt

Costume Design: Toni-Leslie James

Lighting Design: Howell Binkley

Sound Design: Gareth Owen

Dance Captain: Jane Bunting

Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen

Arrangements/Music Supervision: Ian Eisendrath

Music Coordinator: David Lai

Hair Design: David Brian Brown

Dialect Coach: Joel Goldes

Company Manager: Erik Birkeland

Production Stage Manager: Shawn Pennington



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