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BWW REVIEW: The Heartwarming Story Of The Depth Of Human Kindness COME FROM AWAY Reopens In Sydney Post Lockdown



Come From Away

Wednesday 27th October 2021, 7pm, Capitol Theatre

(BroadwayWorld Sydney's Senior Editor Jade Kops also reviewed the June 2021 Sydney Opening Night and 2019 Melbourne Season)



COME FROM AWAY is a story that everyone should see so it is wonderful that the Australian production has had the resilience to withstand the challenges of two COVID-19 induced shutdowns, first during its Melbourne season and most recently during Sydney's 4-month lockdown. Re-opening with a few cast changes, the story of the compassion and welcoming hospitality that the people of Gander showed the 'Plane People' at one of the 21st century's most shocking moments feels even more powerful a third time around.

Come From Away
Melbourne Cast (Photo Jeff Busby)

With the prolonged lockdown it's understandable that there would be some cast changes, particularly with some of the international performers. For the return Sydney season two international performers join the cast as Broadway veteran Dan'yelle Williamson takes over the role of worried mother Hannah and Kansas City native Teddy Trice, previously seen in the Australian tour of THE BOOK OF MORMON, takes on the role of New Yorker Bob. Joe Kosky, recently seen in the Australian tours of SHREK THE MUSICAL and SCHOOL OF ROCK fills Oz's Policeman's cap, Manon Gunderson-Briggs picks up Janice's reporters' microphone and Kat Harrison takes on Bonnie's challenge of dealing with the 19 animals in the diverted planes.

For this return season, it feels as if the timing of the work has been stretched ever so slightly resulting in a greater emotional impact as comic moment and weightier sentiments have that split second longer to land and settle in the mind. It may also contribute to an ease in understanding the accents, ensuring that Irene Sankoff and David Hein's (both Book, Music and Lyrics) lyrics and dialogue are fully appreciated. The new cast blend in seamlessly with the rest of the company, 4 of which have been with the production since Melbourne (Zoe Gertz, Douglas Hansell, Emma Powell and Katrina Retallick though this is the first opportunity that BWW's Senior Editor has had to experience Retallick's performance)

Dan'yelle Williamson tempers Hannah's anguish and fear for her son, a firefighter in New York City, with an acknowledgement of the mother's helplessness as she waits by the phone to give an even more palpable feeling of the heartbreaking foreboding that looms with each unanswered call. Pulling back from the edge of hysterical, Williamson gives Hannah more depth and desperation in her pure tones that pull back into a resignation that she can't do anything as she waits, 2,000 km away from where she needs to be.

Teddy Trice has a perfect comic timing, trusting the silence between observations to allow Bob's New York cynicism to land perfectly as he ponders the unexpected reception he receives, making the character even more endearing. His connection to the audience feels intimate even in the 2,000 seat Capitol Theatre and his facial expressions are brilliant.

Joe Kosky gives Oz a warmth and degree of goofiness and adds even more comedy to the short moment as the Casanova Spanish teacher. Manon Gunderson-Briggs captures Janice's awkward inexperience and feeling of being overwhelmed with the story of the century that the small-town country girl has found herself reporting on her first day at the news station. The adjustment of pace allows Gunderson-Briggs time to react with subtle physical responses to the chaos she's reporting, reinforcing that Janice is trying her best to maintain a professional appearance on camera but equally moved by the situation that is unfolding. Kat Harrison captures Bonnie's passion for animal welfare with sincerity and a liberal dose of humor as she refuses to give up on getting in to tend to the pets and primates being transported, even when husband Doug (Philip Lowe) pleads with her to follow the restrictions the authorities are relaying to him as an air traffic controller. While Harrison has moments where she makes Bonnie's accent even more pronounced, it took a few moments to realize the cat's name was Lyle this time around, she is more emphatic, thereby making sure the character has greater impact.

Seeing the Australian production for the 3rd time doesn't diminish the power of this incredible piece of ethno-drama/documentary theatre. The 12 strong cast, supported by 8 piece band keep each performance fresh and each viewing allows the incredible detail to be noticed with 'new' things being spotted each time. Even if you saw Come From Away before the lockdown, do yourself a favor and see it again.

Come From Away
Zoe Gertz as Captain Bass (Melbourne Production: Photo Jeff Busby)

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