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Review: COME FROM AWAY at Östgötateatern

Review: COME FROM AWAY at Östgötateatern

The production runs from 9th of September through 31st of December

Almost two years ago, when the pandemic was raging, I had the privilege of being one of the 50 who got to see the sneak premiere of Come from away in Norrköping and was completely knocked out by this wonderful, warm, humane musical. The development of the pandemic then put an end to it, so I was so happy when the Östgöteater put it on again. For this a musical that is especially needed now with the prevailing social climate in Sweden and around the world. We need to be reminded of the good and humanity, that there is a helping hand when needed, but also that we need to extend a hand to those affected by war and other things. Not to look away.

Come From Away is about how the people of the small town of Gander in New Foundland, like everyone else in the world, were shocked by the images of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. But for them it became even more real when 38 planes were diverted to land at their airport and all of a sudden they were dealing with 7,000 airline passengers and crew from around the world. In one fell swoop, the population of Gander almost doubles. At once, all the residents get together and collect everything they can, arrange beds, etc. to be able to receive the plane passengers who have no idea what has happened. There will be wonderful meetings between these people, tentative at first, suspicion, and various prejudices abound, but slowly wonderful friendships develop. You help and take care of each other.

This is a real ensemble musical and it's so fun that it's pretty much the same ensemble as two years ago. Anna-Maria Hallgarn has been given the role of flight captain Beverly Bass/Annette and she balances so well between being the action-oriented flight captain who takes responsibility for her passengers while showing a soft side in the phone conversations with her family. It's magical when she sings about her dream of becoming a pilot and then succeeding in becoming American Airlines' first female flight captain. So you understand that Irene Sankoff and David Hein, who wrote the musical, chose to highlight Beverly Bass as the captain highlighted in the musical. But as I said, mainly it is an ensemble musical and the whole ensemble is incredibly good musically and is so well-coordinated. They spread so much warmth, joy and humanity to the audience. There is such incredible power in all the numbers when the whole ensemble is involved and you can really tell that they like this musical. Through Markus Virta's direction, all nuances and moods are captured perfectly. But even if it's mostly heat, there are times when it hurts too. One suffers with Hannah (Pia Ternström) who fails to get hold of her son who is a firefighter in New York during the time they are in Gander. It hurts the heart so much when the Muslim Ali (Hani Arrabi) is subjected to suspicions and prejudices just because he is a Muslim.

The scenography is so simple and ingenious. It's basically a few chairs and benches that can become airplane chairs, barstools, etc. every second. The costumes are just as clever because everyone plays dual roles both as a Gander resident and as an airplane passenger, but just by wearing a cap, a sweater or a captain's jacket, they change characters and it goes completely seamlessly.

There are only words of praise and superlatives to describe this musical, but to really understand the feeling it gives, you have to see it for yourself. So don't miss it now that there is another chance. Up to and including October 23, it is played in Linköping and November 12 to December 31 in Norrköping. Book a ticket and see it!

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