Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Emotionally Transcendent COME FROM AWAY at Seattle Rep

The Company of Come From Away at
The Seattle Rep
Photo credit: Chris Bennion

Dear Readers, for those that may only read the beginnings of my reviews, I must start off this by telling you to stop reading this right now and go get tickets to the new musical "Come From Away" currently at the Seattle Rep. After you have done that you can come back and read the rest of this. I'll wait. Done? OK now that you've done that I can tell you that what you will be seeing is the best musical I've seen all year and possibly ever. At least it will rank in my top 10 of shows that have affected me so much with its sheer brilliant storytelling and heart. This one CANNOT be missed!

We all have our 9/11 stories. Where we were, whom we were with, what we or those close to us went through. That horrible day changed all of us. But in the midst of that tragedy the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland showed what it is to be human by opening up their hearts and homes to complete strangers. This isolated little town became unexpected hosts to 38 planes and about 7000 international visitors as they were diverted from US airspace following the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein have taken this true event and, based off interviews with the people who lived through it, created this stirring Celtic rock musical. Yes, it's a musical about 9/11 but before you think it's all going to be flag waving and maudlin patriotism you must realize that 9/11 is just the backdrop out of which this incredibly life affirming story happened. Yes, the show explores the tragedy and fears these people were feeling over the days that followed but it also shows off what can happen when people put their own lives aside for a bit in order to help those who need it. A lesson we can all learn from.

The characters, story and above all the music of the show are infectious to the level of soul invading. And of course coupled with the backdrop of that terrible day the emotion becomes that much more intense. But there's tons of laughter amidst the tears which for me amounted to an emotive roller coaster as for 100 minutes I went from sobbing to belly laughs to sobbing again like some sort of emotional tennis match. And this highly emotional show is brilliantly directed by Christopher Ashley who in a very minimal way creates this stunning ride with not one ounce of wasted staging, space or pacing while still keeping the heart of the show oh so alive.

Jenn Colella (center) and the Company of
Come From Away at the Seattle Rep
Photo credit: Chris Bennion

The entire town as well as all the "plane people" they meet are played by an ensemble of 12 very gifted actors who transform themselves from one persona to another with ease and with absolutely no confusion as to who they are playing at the moment. Eric Ankrim, Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee McDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren and Sharon Wheatley must all be mentioned as each one had their individual moments to shine and not one from this glorious ensemble wasted a single moment. I don't think you could call out a lead or breakout moment in the show but I did have my personal favorites such as Kimball, Smith and Ankrim leading a "Prayer" that sent me into hysterical sobs or Colella who went from hilariously eager townsperson backed up by a group of sexy cardiologists with moves that would put the cast of Magic Mike to shame to a pilot examining how the events tried to tarnish the thing she loves the most, to fly. And all of them are backed up by an ever present and killer band lead by Ian Eisendrath.

If you haven't guessed by now, I absolutely LOVED this show. The story, the music, the performances; everything about it came together in a blissful mélange of brilliance. To demonstrate how amazing this show is let me share a pet peeve of mine. We in Seattle love our theater but Seattle audiences have an annoying habit of giving a standing ovation to everything. Applause is what every show deserves (even the bad ones as they tried). A standing ovation should be reserved for when a show or a performance has been so powerful that you simply cannot remain in your seat when the show is done. And as is often the case in Seattle some people, in my opinion, misguidedly stand as they feel it's the standard and everyone else slowly rises as now we can no longer see around those standing. Well I can say with no reservation that I was one of the first ones on his feet at the end of this show as the energy was so powerful that it was like I had electrodes on my chair and I was not the only one as it was not a slow rise of an ovation, it was the entire theater en masse and immediately. And because of that I'm going to do something with my three letter rating system I have never done before. Typically my highest rating is the WOW. But that's simply not good enough for this show so I give "Come From Away" the unprecedented WOW+! Now for those that didn't listen to me at the start, use the information below to get your tickets. If you miss this one, you'll regret it for the rest of your theatrically subpar life.

"Come From Away" performs at the Seattle Rep through December 13th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Rep box office at 206-443-2222 or visit them online at www.seattlerep.org.



Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at Village Theatre Photo
Love and longing, mistakes and matches, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY pairs all the ups and down and ins and outs of love and marriage in one show. Village Theatre’s production of this Kate Hamill adaptation also pairs the traditional story with exaggerations of the humor and sarcasm. It is light and diverting as well as deep and meaningful. In short, it has a bit of everything to satisfy the tastes of all the Mariannes and Elinors out there.

Review: HISTORY OF THEATRE: ABOUT, BY, FOR, AND NEAR at ACT Theatre Photo
A new work by ACT Theatre and the Hansberry Project, HISTORY OF THEATRE: ABOUT, BY, FOR, and NEAR will take you on a journey through time and space to meet the people who forged the foundations for Blacks in theater. The show dispels myths about minstrelsy, delves into the hows and whys of black face, and covers key players of early theater in America. Unheard voices are released, forgotten stars are remembered, and a rich legacy is revealed.

Acclaimed Filmmaker Roya Sadat Directs World Premiere of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS at Seatt Photo
When acclaimed Afghan filmmaker Roya Sadat agreed to direct the operatic premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns, the challenges encountered by the story's Mariam and Laila, two women brought together under brutal Taliban rule, were a reminder of a traumatic period in Afghanistan's history.

Review: METAMORPHOSES at Seattle Repertory Theatre Photo
Compelling storytelling is the focus of METAMORPHOSES at Seattle Rep. Every choice is made with intention, and every facet of the show is a work of collaboration. The gods, the humans, and the demigods are all shown to have strengths and weaknesses. With stories that reach back into the eons of the past, METAMORPHOSES leads you to laugh, to hurt, and to reflect on what it means to be human.


From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)


Review: BECOMING OTHELLO: A BLACK GIRL'S JOURNEY at Seattle Shakespeare CompanyReview: BECOMING OTHELLO: A BLACK GIRL'S JOURNEY at Seattle Shakespeare Company
January 7, 2023

Dear Readers, you know I find one person shows to be problematic. Often, they get into maudlin territories and end up being someone else’s therapy on stage. So, I was dubious when Seattle Shakespeare Company announced Debra Ann Byrd’s one woman show “Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey” to start off their 2023. As Byrd stepped onto stage at the Center Theatre, I took it as a good sign that we didn’t get the cliché, “Oh, I didn’t see you there” as if we’d intruded on her private moments. Instead, we got not words but song and movement offering up prayers to her ancestors who got her to where she is today. And then what followed was 90 minutes of a raw, well-paced, well-constructed look into this amazing woman who broke down the barriers erected in front of her by centuries of selfish oppression. Also, what followed was a hell of a way to start off 2023.

SEATTLE CRITIC'S CHOICE AWARDS (JAY'S PICKS) 2022SEATTLE CRITIC'S CHOICE AWARDS (JAY'S PICKS) 2022
January 6, 2023

Dear Readers, I don’t need to tell you, it’s been a crazy year. Many theaters just coming back to life or ramping up again post pandemic. But even with all the chaos, Seattle still comes up with some amazing shows from theaters large and small. Here’s a list of my personal picks for outstanding shows and performers from the past year, 2022.

Review: MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at The Paramount TheatreReview: MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at The Paramount Theatre
December 17, 2022

More. That, Dear Readers, is the watchword the creators of the stage adaption of the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film, “Moulin Rouge!”, subscribed to. They threw in more sparkle wherever they could in this stage musical, currently playing at the Paramount. Unfortunately, they also threw in more songs, more lights, and certainly more bass in this spectacle that loses the heart and charm of the original in favor of assaulting the audience’s senses.

Review: THE FLIGHT BEFORE XMAS from Macha Theatre WorksReview: THE FLIGHT BEFORE XMAS from Macha Theatre Works
December 4, 2022

Dear Readers, we all know that travelling during the holidays can be a nightmare. Delayed flights, family drama, not to mention dealing with others attempting their own travels. But as frustrating as it can be, what’s not frustrating is the delightful cast of characters created by Maggie Lee in her play, “The Flight Before Xmas”. A wonderful and heartfelt diversion from the usual holiday fare currently playing at West of Lenin from Macha Theatre Works.

Review: MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL at The Seattle RepReview: MR. DICKENS AND HIS CAROL at The Seattle Rep
December 1, 2022

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is an enduring classic. We all know this. It’s never been out of publication since its first publishing in 1843. It has spawned numerous movie, TV, and stage adaptations from the serious to the Muppets. Now the Seattle Rep has come along with a World Premiere of Samantha Silva’s “Mr. Dickens and His Carol”, based on her book of the same name. Taking a supposed look at the creation of this classic tale, this historical fiction is heavy on the fiction and light on the history, cutting a wide swath with its poetic license about the author and turning him into a pompous buffoon in a story and a production in desperate need of an editor.