A musical centered on 9/11 doesn’t sound like it will be a hit, but neither did a hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers, so go figure. Come From Away, written by David Hein and Irene Sankoff, is an absolutely beautiful show that is a reminder of the best of humanity. While every original musical takes years to develop, it somehow came to Broadway at the perfect time, when the current political screams for a heartwarming musical that reminds you that our country can get through anything.
I was apprehensive on what the show would be like, but Come From Away is a stunning piece of theater, that deftly works in the emotions without ever laying it on too thick. Taking place in Gander, Newfoundland, the musical centers around the displaced passengers when American airspace was shut down following the terrorist attacks. It’s a story I knew nothing about, and it’s not painful to relive this part 9/11. So much about that day is on the tragedy, but this show manages to focus on the sense of community and humanity that came about as a result.
With only 12 actors portraying dozens of roles, it’s a shame that everyone is considered a featured player, as I’m sure many of them cancelled each other out in during the nomination process. The one nominee is Jenn Colella, whose voice absolutely soars in the show’s only solo number, “Me and the Sky,” which is one of my favorite songs to come out of this season. But each actor fully forms multiple characters, each its own person, and deftly moves between characters throughout the show. If the Tony Awards gave out an award for Best Ensemble, Come From Away would surely come out as the winner. Everyone is fantastic, but I have to single out Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, and Caesar Samayoa as particularly memorable, and people I thought had a shot at a nomination.
Director Christopher Ashley managed to keep this show compact and tight. His ability to weave together dozens of stories in just 90 minutes is a true feat, although I wouldn’t have minded the show running longer! The mark of a truly great show is when it seems to end too soon and you want more! The show is so uplifting and is just a stunning show. Given today’s political climate, Come From Away is a great reminder of what people will do to rise above even the worst of circumstances. What a great work to remind us of the best of humanity, and how art can help heal us all!