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BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY at Van Wezel all that you can want and so much more

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The production runs through November 28

BWW Review: COME FROM AWAY at Van Wezel all that you can want and so much more

It is such an exciting time with Broadway reopened. I spent a day recently in New York City and the hustle and bustle of the theatre district reminded me of why I love the city and Broadway in particular. I have seen a measly 73 shows on Broadway or ones that are part of a Broadway tour and I have ranked them all in the order that I love/like them. One of those shows that has remained in the top 10 since I first witnessed its magical artistry is "Come From Away." So, I jumped at the chance to see it again at the Van Wezel.

To be honest, my expectations weren't that high going in. I often see a drop-off from Broadway to a National Tour and I loved the show so much that I knew it would be hard to match the experience the first time I saw the show. All of my pessimism went away with the first number "Welcome to the Rock." From there it was pure magic as I enjoyed every moment and could not wait to leap to my feet after the closing number.

"Come From Away" with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, is based on the true story of when the isolated community of Gander, Newfoundland played host to the world. What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleep-over when 38 planes, carrying thousands of people from across the globe, were diverted to Gander's air strip on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander welcomed those no stuck in an unknown place with music, and the recognition that we're all part of a universal family.

The Gander townspeople would spring to action and prepare to house, feed, clothe, and comfort the nearly 7,000 passengers who are now stranded in Gander. They have limited knowledge of what has taken place and struggle with their detachment from family, friends and the people they love.

The hospitality of all those in the town embodies all that the human spirit should be. They are embraced in the town and are initiated as Newfoundlanders to let them know they are part of their family. The story explores these relationships and the kindness that is expressed to mankind during one of the greatest tragedies in our history.

"Come From Away" has defined characters but their names are irrelevant. There is no true lead or supporting cast. They are all one. They are all equal. They are equal in footing, stature and emotion. The construct of the characters compliments the message of the story and reinforces at our time of need no one person is exalted over another. The beauty of this show is amplified by this talented cast. Each character supports the others. Every movement, every song, every line of dialogue builds upon the central message of the show - kindness.

Their performance is so raw and true to life that it allows you to feel just a glimpse of the emotion that must have been brought to fruition that day. Director, Christopher Ashley was masterful in creating characters with such authenticity that the audience is able to understand firsthand the depth of each character which is often lost upon the novice patron in a traditional musical. His ability to create synergy amongst every person on stage is a masterful feat that cannot be understated.

While no one character takes center stage this "company" of Marika Aubrey, Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Nick Duckart, Chamblee Ferguson, Sharriese Hamilton, Christine Toy Johnson, Julie Johnson, James Earl Jones II, Julia Knitel, Sharone Sayegh and Jeremy Woodard dominate the stage in what can only be described as an electric display of true art. Their work combined with the beautiful scenic artistry and prodigious band who build the demonstrative rise of the show leaves no doubt that you are witnessing something special whenever you see this show.

"Come From Away" does not follow the traditional musical approach but that is what makes this show and this cast and creative team so special. They are able to tell a story. They tell a story of hope and of true goodness. In a world that can be so divisive, this show reminds you that there is still kindness in a world that often feels void of such virtue.

This National Tour truly exceeds expectations. The show is poignant and one that can be watched multiple times. In fact, it should. The message is pure. The cast is exceptional. The presentation is authentic. Most importantly, you are left with a reminder of how to treat one another. In this holiday season, a show like "Come From Away" will make you thankful. You will be thankful Broadway has returned and thankful that you saw and heard a message that will help you refocus and serve as a reminder of how at one of our lowest points love rose above it all.

"Come From Away" runs through November 28th. Tickets and more information can be found at https://www.vanwezel.org/

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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