Huzzah! It has arrived!
The Broadway hit Come From Away has finally landed in Adelaide amidst much publicity and hype.
And rightly so…
The Canadian musical, with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is based on the events in the Newfoundland town of Gander during the week following the September 11 attacks.
There, 38 planes, carrying approximately 7,000 passengers, were commanded to land unexpectedly at Gander International Airport.
Here tells the true story of how these frightened, stranded travellers from all over the globe were housed, fed and comforted by Gander residents following the attacks and reminds audiences around the world the capacity for human compassion amid evil and darkness.
The characters in the musical are based on, and in most cases, share the names of the actual travellers and residents, which creates another layer of humanity and heart.
Come From Away recreates the temporary community which lasted just five days but changed lives forever.
The sensational creative team, headed up by Director Christopher Ashley, with Resident Director and Choreographer Michael Ralph, delivered an unstoppable show that hits all the feels in just over an hour and a half.
The pulsating Celtic beat of ‘Welcome to The Rock’; with Musical Supervision and Arrangements by Ian Eisendrath and led by Musical Director Michael Tyack sets the tone of idiosyncrasies, juxtaposition and percussion that become the backbone of the show.
Kelly Devine’s seamless musical staging moved the characters from plane to Newfoundland in an instant, and along with the magical scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, we were transported through the pines of Gander, to the community centre, aboard the plane and back to the local pub, featuring a circular turnstile in the centre of the stage.
The musicians are stealthily set up behind the wooden pillars, but you can hear every bodhran, fiddle and mandolin in every song, and the band get their moment to shine during a standing celebration.
Each performer plays multiple roles, representing a passenger and citizens of Gander. They steer through the body of the show with such agility and grace, sliding between characters with a switch of a hat, flick of a jacket, and twist of a chair, moving sinuously between accents and guises.
They are a magnificent dozen, and it wouldn’t be proper to single one over the other; as the show wouldn’t work with one less or one more. While some musical numbers have a feature soloist [the showstopping ‘Me and The Sky’ or the heartbreaking ‘I Am Here’], the sounds and scenes that leave us salivating and begging for more are the numbers with the company in full flight.
Such incredible story-tellers, in every scene and every song, with voices soaring through the theatre, especially during ‘Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere’ – hitting notes and harmonies I didn’t even know existed.
Come From Away manages moments of heartbreak and humour in almost the same breath, and will stir memories among many of us from that fateful day.
What it will also do is restore your faith in humankind and leave you planning a trip to Gander before you even leave the theatre.