Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, before Sept. 11, 2001, had nothing that would have justified a Broadway production. But after 38 planes landed at their airport because of the horrific attacks on New York City, Gander became the heartwarming place for a beautiful, fast-paced and emotional Broadway show.
“Come From Away,” written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, tells the story of 16,000 people in 100 minutes. It tears at your heartstrings while making you laugh to ease the sorrow you feel for these characters. Perhaps the most amazing component of the play is what happened before it.
Sankoff and Hein based their production off of interviews with those from Gander, planes that landed and even had the prime ministers of Canada (both past and present) attend their show. The show’s honesty does not miss a beat, and neither does the music.
The show is so energetic and the cast of 12 plays a multitude of characters that can be hard to keep track of. It is unique in the way the characters provide a journey that they take with you. As their emotions are played on stage, you feel in your heart that this is real, this is something powerful. Performers in this show wear a multitude of hats, some switching from a gay man to a Muslim and others from an airplane commander to a Gander resident. The interchanging of characters explores the multitudes of emotions that went on within the small town.
Music has the power to heal, to inspire and to change your view of the world. The music in “Come From Away” does all of that. The Gallic-styled music provides a concert-like atmosphere that may be unmatched on Broadway today. The energy of the music is matched by the emotion of the plot creating a Tony-worthy mix of a musical.
In light of tragedy, those from Gander gave these passengers hope; this musical also gives hope to those who are looking for it. There is a character for every type of person possible – a Muslim character, a Jewish character and people from just about every corner of the world. If you sit in the audience and don’t connect with at least one character, you need to pay more attention.
That could be the story that “Come From Away” is trying to tell. It could have been you, me or anyone you know on one of those 38 planes that landed in Gander. The relatable characters bring you back to that day and make you take a step back and think about the fortunes in life and the love some live with every day. The people portrayed in “Come From Away” may not be the best people in the world, but they are certainly an inspiration for community, hope and compassion at a time when these qualities are desired most.