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Review: COME FROM AWAY at 5th Avenue Theatre

Review: COME FROM AWAY at 5th Avenue Theatre

Bring all the tissues, this show brings all the feels.

Review: COME FROM AWAY at 5th Avenue Theatre
The North American Tour Company of
Come From Away at the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Dear Readers, if you feel you don't want/need to see the musical "Come From Away", currently playing at the 5th Avenue Theatre, I'm here to tell you, you're wrong. Maybe you, like I did before I saw the original run back in 2015, scoff at a musical about 9/11. Or maybe, Gods forbid, you have not heard of this 2017 Tony Award winning show, in which case I need you to emerge from your bunker. This is simply one of those near perfect shows from beginning to end. And as for the 9/11 aspect, yes, the events of the show take place around 9/11 but the show is about the capacity of human kindness more than the tragedy of that horrible day.

So, yes, it all happened on that fateful day when the planes were crashed into the towers and the Pentagon, and the world stopped breathing. But this show deals with the true story of how, due to those circumstances and all air traffic being suspended, 38 planes had to be diverted from their original courses and were sent to a small island airport in Gander, Newfoundland. This small town suddenly found their population almost doubled as more than 7000 people from those planes were stranded. What follows over the next few days is how these glorious people opened their homes and their lives to these travelers from all over the world, and without a single thought for themselves, managed to make them all feel safe and welcome.

Irene Sankoff and David Hein's beautiful show takes you on an emotional rollercoaster for 100 minutes with their rousing folk music and stirring ballads. As the play "Steel Magnolias" teaches us, laughter through tears is one of the best emotions, and "Come From Away" manages that over and over. You'll cry over the losses only to turn around the next second and bust out laughing over the two Kevins, or the New Yorker's trepidation on stealing other people's grills, or that Canadian delicacy fish with cheese. And whatever moment grabs ahold of you, and speaking with others I've found different moments of this show hit different people the hardest, this stunning show will send you out into the night with a renewed sense of hope for the world. And we can all use that.

Beyond the fabulousness of the show itself, the direction from Tony Award winning director Christopher Ashley is unsurpassed. There is simply no downtime in this ride as we bounce from moment to moment, story to story, character to character, in a fluid dance of pathos. In fact, every aspect of this show is superb from Beowulf Boritt's scenic design to Toni-Leslie James' costumes to Howell Brinkley's lighting, it all comes together creating theatrical perfection.

Review: COME FROM AWAY at 5th Avenue Theatre
The North American Tour Company of
Come From Away at the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

And this 12 person ensemble in this touring cast are all up to the task of this monumental show as they each portray multiple parts, both plane people and townsfolk, with chameleonic ease. You never have an instant of confusion as they switch from one character to another with a simple change of a hat or coat. Each and every one of them bringing their stunning A-game to the roles. Danielle K. Thomas' heartbreaking mother worried for her firefighter son. Or Jeremy Woodard who starts off one of my favorite scenes with some heavenly vocals. Then there's James Earl Jones II who brings in that comedic tension relief as New Yorker Bob who's worried where to put his wallet. And I must mention standby Jenny Ashman who blew everyone away on the night I saw it as Beverly and her soaring rendition of "Me and the Sky". And that's just naming a few of the wonderful performers as they each get their moments to shine and run off with them.

This is simply a show that is required viewing for the enveloping grace of the piece as well as the outstanding talent of the people involved. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give the North American Tour of "Come From Away" at the 5th Avenue Theatre a "gets me every time" WOW. Now The 5th Avenue still requires the use to masks while in the theater which is severely problematic. Not for the discomfort but as it impedes the multitude of times you'll need to use the tissues you must to bring with you for the show. You have been warned.

"Come From Away" performs at the 5th Avenue Theatre through August 7th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.5thavenue.org.




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)


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