Come From Away
Come From Away is the latest Broadway hit that is now taking London by storm. It tells the true story of those that were forced to land in Gander, a small remote town of only 7,000 inhabitants on 9/11. It tells the tale of both the plane people who came from across the world as well as the islanders who welcomed them with open arms and truck loads of food.
It is a show that has a rollercoaster of emotions. You find yourself moved to tears at one moment then laughing and feeling a warm fuzzy feeling the next. Underlying all of this is the fact that everything you watch unfold on stage actually happened, yes there is a small amount of artistic licence taken here and there in how the story is told, but it is all based on fact.
The cast do a faultless job of retelling the story. What is clear from the story and the cast is that there is not a ‘star’ of the show, instead they all work together to make the show work. They each take their moment in the spotlight throughout the show and at other times are a key part of the background ensemble needed to support the person taking their moment to share their story.
It therefore almost seems unfair to single out cast members when they are all such an intrinsic part of the show, but it wouldn’t be a full review if I didn’t! Rachel Tucker plays Beverley Bass, a pilot of one of the aircrafts that landed as well as Annette. Beverley Bass was the first woman to be ranked as a captain for American Airlines and her powerhouse song of ‘Me in the Sky’ is a jaw dropping performance. It takes you on a journey with her from her beginnings of her training to her in the hotel room waiting for news. It is emotionally charged and delivered with the right amount of power and self reflection.
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Jenna Boyd plays Beulah, the Newfoundlander with a huge heart. She takes in many of the plane people under her wings and forms a life long friendship with Hannah, a woman who has a son who is a fire-fighter in NYC. From the first moment you see Boyd on stage you immediately warm to her and she embodies how you believe each Newfoundlander treated each plane person.
Emma Salvo as Janice and others has some of the funniest lines of the show and delivers them with expertise, Robert Hands and Helen Hobson as Nick and Diane have you rooting for their romance instantly. The moment they kissed is possibly the happiest I have been to see two grown adults kiss!
The music has folk and Celtic undertones as well as some more traditional musical theatre style numbers. The band are superb and during ‘Screech In’ they become part of the action on stage. At one point in Come From Away, during ‘Prayer,’ the music spoke for itself. It depicted religions from all around the world, coming together in literal harmony and it was this point in the show that moved me the most.
The direction and staging by Christopher Ashley and Kelly Devine work together seamlessly. The chairs that make up the plane seats appear and disappear in a blur and the simplicity of the set just serves to drive home how little there was in Gander yet how they all gave so much.
Come From Away is the perfect show for London at this moment in time. When the future looks uncertain for our own country this 100 minutes reminds you of human kindness and how from the darkest of times sometimes light can shine.
Come From Away is currently booking until 14th September. To find out more and book tickets visit their website.