MUSICAL REVIEW: Come From Away ★★★★★

Come from Away
Phoenix Theatre, London
30th January - 14th September 2019

On September 11th 2001, 38 planes, with a total number of 7,000 passengers plus many animals, were diverted to Gander, the Newfoundland town in Canada, after the horrific attack on the Twin Towers in the the USA. Stranded there for 5 days, the residents of Gander took the ‘plane people’ into their homes, shelters and community centres, resulting in the whole town coming together to help those in need of food, drink, communication and hospitality.

Then on September 11th 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks, ‘Come From Aways’, as they were now called, from across the world descended once again on Gander to commemorate the events, and within these visitors were writers Irene Sankoff & David Hein, who started interviewing those who remembered the events, and with this information came the blueprints that formed the hit Broadway, and now transferred production to London, Come From Away.

Like most musicals, I tried my best not to listen to the soundtrack prior as I wanted to get a fresh experience, with having only heard 'Me and the Sky' beforehand through marketing. This to me became the greatest decision I made because over the 100 minute running time, with no interval, I went on a harrowing and uplifting journey with these characters that really warmed to my heart and made me cry multiple times throughout. This ensemble cast brang to life the roles that originated from the real stories of those who were diverted to Gander, and I felt every emotion I possibly could following their character acs, with every member of the company having their own individual moments of purity and story to tell. It really helped that I hadn't heard the soundtrack as I felt deeply connected to the characters and were constantly intrigued by their actions and version of events.

There was not one single performer that I found standing out from above the rest, and that’s a testament to the word ‘ensemble’, Ironically for this musical being a group of actors who work together so strongly as a one-piece just like the company on stage for this production telling the real life story. I was invested in everyone’s performances and the equal share of stage time between the whole company made the whole show as slick as it possibly could, from the harmonies in the music to the minimal actions that had deep meaning but were presented with so much precision and intensity. Christopher Ashley’s direction is astonishing and heartfelt when mixed with Kelly Devine’s energetic musical staging, designed with such detail from Beowulf Boritt.

Overall, Come From Away is the hottest ticket in London right now and I can certainly see why; this a musical that we never thought we’d need till now and has become like a drug. Needing to be seen by all, this enormous and ambitious production shows that when times were tough all those years ago back in 2001, in a small town off Newfoundland island, humanity was at its best with the generosity of those from Gander who stretched their arms and smiles open to those who were stranded there for over 5 days!


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