★★★★ | Come From Away

come from away theatre review

Before September 11, 2001, no one had ever heard of the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland. But on that horrible, horrible day, the townspeople (no more than 10,000 people) welcomed in and took in thousands of people who were on Westbound planes that were diverted to this place in the middle of nowhere.

This story is told in the musical Come from Away. Winning many awards in its Washington D.C. and Broadway runs, this popular show has arrived into London with much anticipation. And the show surely lives up to it.

Gander has a small airport, where the nearest Starbucks in four hours away, and where there are a total of 550 hotel rooms. But on 9/11, 6,579 people were grounded in Gander. And it was the townspeople who opened up their homes, and hospitality, to these passengers who at the time at arrival had no idea as to what was happening (this was before everyone had mobile phones).

The characters in this show are based on (and is most cases share names of) real Gander residents and the passengers on these planes. The actors play both the passengers and citizens, switching roles every now and then. While it does get a bit confusing in the beginning, as the show rolls on and the music starts to kick in, Come from Away gets more uplifting, until it, and the residents of Gander, have really won us over.

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Beautiful songs such as ‘I Am Here’, beautifully sung by Cat Simmons, whose son was a firefighter in NYC, ‘Stop the World,’ sung by Robert Hands and Helen Hobson who were passengers and ended up falling in love, and ’Something’s Missing,’ sung by the entire company after the 9/11 passengers all left Gander – show us how the human spirit was alive and well the week the world changed. With incredible book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and sharp direction by Christopher Ashley, Come From Away may not only bring you to tears, but it will also lift up your spirits.

It had been announced that there will be a feature film adaptation of Come from Away, with Sankoff and Hein writing the script and Christopher Ashley as director. I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie version of this moving and cathartic musical. 

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Come From Away plays at the Phoenix Theatre until 19th September 2019. Book tickets here.

About the author: Tim Baros
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.