The Tony Award-winning musical on Apple TV+ teaches its audiences that even the gravest of tragedies, such as the 9/11 terror attack, can be overcome with a bit of compassion and empathy
The musical is based on the musical book written by David Hein and Irene Sankoff. The story is inspired by the true story of how 38 planes had to be grounded in an obscure island in Canada called Newfoundland, in the northeastern tip of North America, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It describes how thousands of terrified passengers were welcomed with open arms by the local communities, even though the number of people deboarding the planes nearly matched the local population count.
Director Christopher Ashley has helped create something truly remarkable that fills the audience with joy despite the subject material. Writers Hein and Sankoff deserve immense praise for crafting something so heartfelt, based on the real-life accounts of the people of Gander who worked tirelessly to offer comfort and solace to the grief-stricken passengers; and also the tales of the passengers whose lives changed in the few days that they spent in Newfoundland.
The 12 cast members gave life to the production and played their parts with excellence, with their effortless portrayal of multiple characters through singing, acting, and dancing, exemplifying why stage actors are often the magnum opus when it comes to acting as a profession. How the actors transition between the multiple characters they portray with ease is simply remarkable. What’s more remarkable is the fact that they switch their accents from the Newfoundland Canadian accent with its Irish twist to various accents ranging from Texan, New York, British and many more.
The minimalist stage and costume design, filmed in New York at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, is well managed by the cast; with the transition between the scenes and settings being almost seamless. Come From Away true’s strengths lies in how it handles several social issues such as xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and other prejudices without imposing on the story that the narrative is trying to tell. It is subtly woven into the story without disrupting the central theme of the narrative. The use of humour, without overindulging into a slapstick comedy, has further enriched the quality of the musical. It has also helped in making the characters more relatable to the audience.
From the chance meeting of the woman from Texas and the British man who would later go on to be married to the local woman taking care of the animals left unattended in the planes, the musical captures how a community came together and selflessly worked and sacrificed for thousands of strangers. It also highlights how sometimes, even in some of the furthest corners of the globe, a little bit of kindness can go a long way in changing lives and perceptions.
A well-written, carefully directed, and flawlessly performed musical production hits the right notes, both literally and metaphorically.