BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY is a Stunning Show of Community
Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of Come From Away has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. Please sit back, relax, and hold on tight, because this production soars above all expectations.
Come From Away is a one-act musical that recounts the true story of the people of Gander, Newfoundland in the days following the September 11th attacks on the United States. With U.S. air space restricted, dozens of planes were forced to make emergency landings in Gander, where they would sit on the tarmac for days. With the town's population set to nearly double from those passengers, townsfolk come together to donate their time, food, and houses to the passengers.
Come From Away intrinsically handles a delicate subject. The September 11th attacks elicit strong emotions and fears from audience members almost two decades after they took place. This production, however, mentions the attacks themselves sparingly and respectfully, not dwelling on the pain and tragedy but rather commemorating and exhibiting the faith in humanity that transpired from the community. Even still, there are scenes that leave you nearly in tears.
The 12-person cast wears multiple different hats and costumes; each cast member has a main character that they play, but they also have quick changes that enable them to embody an entirely different character in the story. From a colorful scarf, to a captain's jacket, these subtle costume changes, combined with vocal and physical embodiment changes, truly allow the actors to transform into entirely different characters. Bravo to each actor for distinguishing between these distinctly, making a cast of 12 feel like a cast of 30.
For four plus days, the passengers are forced to stay in town. What begins as uncertainty and caution blossoms into compassion and friendships. The town shuts down for the passengers; schools are used as relief centers, striking school bus drivers come off the picket line to transport passengers, and homes are opened up to strangers. The chronological telling of this story allows for a very clear path for character development and storytelling. Even without a singular principal role, the small, chronological vignettes link dozens of stories together and allow you to really get to know each of the characters personally.
It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the choreography of the show. Ballet numbers and high kicks need not apply; the choreography did not entail much traditional dance. Instead, synchronized movements were stunningly powerful. The cast did not need big, flashy dancing to convey their essence; their coordinated movements further indicated the theme of community in the show.
Come From Away is a refreshing musical that memorializes the best of the human condition. With its theme deep-seeded in emotions, the production affords cathartic relief, making the comedy of the show even funnier when sandwiched between tough dialogue. Hospitality and general compassion fly high in this stunning show. As the cast sings, "You are here, at the start of a moment."
To see or not to see score: 8/9; Strongly Recommended Show
Photo by: Matthew Murphy