A show that takes its inspiration from the aftermath of 9/11 may not seem like the most uplifting topic for a musical, however, any preconceived notions you have about what could possibly feature in such a show when you enter the auditorium of the Phoenix Theatre will be blown away as the truly inspirational, courageous, and uplifting true stories that are told in Come From Away will surely put a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
Come From Away is a story that was forged from interviews with some of the 7,000 passengers and crew who were all stranded on September 11th, 2001 in Newfoundland. As planes were diverted to the small town Canadian town of Gander, local residents and international travellers all came together and formed what became a unique global community, and after having had a successful opening on Broadway, the subsequent West End production of Come From Away has had London audiences wanting to “kiss the fish” in Gander ever since.
So what is all the fuss about, and why is Come From Away a show that you should see? Here's why......
What is the Come From Away musical about?
On September 11th, 2001, the whole world changed forever. When the first plane struck the Twin Towers at 8.46am in New York, both the city’s landscape and future were transformed, however, although this resulted in almost 3,000 tragic deaths, there were also new lives and communities that were born out of the tragedy.
As all planes were diverted from New York, 38 of them were redirected and forced to land in the small town of Gander in Newfoundland with a local population of just 11,000. The operational logistics of keeping 7,000 stranded international air passengers safe and calm was no mean feat, but the good people of Gander stepped up to the plate. Come From Away is the story of how a tiny Canadian community welcomed them with open arms and the relationships that blossomed from the unlikeliest of situations.
Instead of featuring a single plot, Come From Away is made up of snapshots of stories of some of the people that unexpectedly found themselves involved in what was a completely unprecedented and bizarre situation in the small Canadian town that day. These include Beverley Bass, the very first female American Airlines captain, and Janice Mosher, a reporter from Gander who comments on the breaking and developing story that is happening on her home turf. There’s also Diane and Nick, two passengers who fall in love while stranded in Gander and go on to get married. As the musical develops, you will discover exactly how incredible stories from these people actually are. Come From Away is a show that everyone should see and is a tonic for the whole of humanity.
What inspired Come From Away to get written?
Back in 2011, the show's writers David Hein and Irene Sankoff travelled to Gander to learn more about what occurred during these fateful days. After meeting residents of the town, the duo found true inspiration for the creation of a musical that was positive, aspirational, and that championed these unique individuals.
When was the premiere of Come From Away?
Come From Away received its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego where it had a limited run from May 29th - July 12th 2015. The show eventually premiered on Broadway at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater on February 18th. 2017, ahead of an official opening night on March 12th and has showcased at the venue ever since. The show moved across the pond and eventually opened in London at the Phoenix Theatre on January 31st. 2019.
Who wrote the musical Come From Away?
Husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff are responsible for the book, music and lyrics in the show. The couple first met while studying at York University after moving to New York in 1999. Following the 9/11 attacks, the duo worked on several musical projects together and had a hit with 'My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding'. The pair were then approached by theatre producer Michael Rubinoff who pitched an idea for a new musical, which gradually snowballed and eventually became Come From Away.
What theatre does Come From Away play at in London?
Performances of Come From Away in London are at the Phoenix Theatre. The theatre first opened in 1930, and has operated as a casino, music hall, and cabaret venue. Recent productions to showcase at the Phoenix Theatre include a revival of Chicago, The Girls, and The Exorcist.
Has Come From Away won any awards?
Come From Away has received unanimous praise from critics with audiences leaving the theatre in tears of joy, emotionally swept away by the inspirational and poignant storylines. It’s of no surprise that the London production of Come From Away has won Olivier awards including 'Best New Musical', 'Best Theatre Choreographer', 'Best Sound Design' and 'Outstanding Achievement Award'.
Fun facts about the musical Come From Away?
Although there are over 70 characters featured in Come From Away, the character changes are done with just a simple hat change or by throwing on a different jacket to signify a different character.
In total, 255 planes were diverted to 17 airports across Canada following 9/11. The 38 planes that are referenced in Come From Away were part of what was named 'Operation Yellow Ribbon'.
A “come from away” is a common vernacular in Gander, meaning someone who comes to Newfoundland who wasn’t born there.
Performances of Come From Away continue at the Phoenix Theatre in London and tickets are currently available to book either online or directly through the box office.