‘Come From Away’ is one of the most powerful theatre shows of the 21st century. Now, as Australia returns to a Covid norm after 2020, the impact of this show has increased substantially.
‘Come From Away’ is about the tragedy of September 11, 2001. It is about the immediate effect 911 had on around 7000 passengers in airspace around the east coast of North America as the terrorist attacks took place, as told through around a dozen or so passengers.
The story takes place in the town of Gander, Newfoundland. The Gander airport was once a thriving international airport once used for refueling long hall international flights across the Atlantic. Modern flights today can fly much longer distances and these days the huge airport is no longer needed for its original purpose. However, on 11 September 2001 it was. Flights were diverted to Gander International Airport and thousands of travelers stranded for a week on the Canadian island which today has a population of just half a million.
This all sounds like a strange topic for a musical, right? But it works.Come From Away photo by Jeff Busby
‘Come From Away’ is a powerful story of love, anger and emotion. It filters down the global impact of billions worldwide into the story of a dozen people. Out of those stories, everyone on the planet can identify with an emotion of that day, the love, the loss, the strength, the fear that engulfed the world.
‘Come From Away’ was written by husband and wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The couple wrote the musical a decade ago. It was first workshopped in 2012, produced in 2013 and has been running ever since.
The cast play multiple roles and pull-off various characters with only seconds of change-over by simply putting on a hat, taking off a coat or changing an accent. I would imagine the actors would have to have total concentration to keep up with their character changes for this fast-paced production.
The set is minimal, with a change of scene done with the flick of the lighting and the rearranging of chairs. Timing and precision is of the utmost importance to maintain the flow of this show but these actors do not miss a moment.
There is no ‘star’ in this show. Instead Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Phillip Lowe, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Joseph Naim, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick, Kellie Rode and Gene Wygandt are all equal stars.
So too the band, led by musical director Luke Hunter and featuring an amazing band, maintains the pace with the live music being performed around the actors.
‘Come From Away’ is a portrayal of human emotion, showcasing the best and worst of mankind concurrently.
It is uplifting at times and at other times it will make you a wreck.
‘Come From Away’ is one of the most powerful shows you will ever see. You will walk away emotionally charged.
See ‘Come From Away’ at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.
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