Come From Away (you figure that name out yourself) opened the other night at the Gerald Schoenfeld on Broadway and despite that it is really just an excellent off-Broadway musical trying to make the big time world of Broadway, it’s pretty darned good with some excellent music and a great cast of unknowns.
So here’s what’s happening. On that terrible day back in 2001 planes all over the world were told to land at the nearest airport and wait for instructions as to what to do next. Well after we meet the citizens of Gander Newfoundland, which is where the planes will be forced to land, we meet the passengers who have disembarked from some 38 airplanes near this little town of 7,000 or so which is affectionately called the Rock.
The townspeople and the passengers are played by the same cast members and believe it or not you don’t get confused. For 6 days the two groups get together in various places including a hockey rink, a local bar and a gym or two not to mention actually cohabiting with the residents who in many cases both house them and feed them.
Everyone seems to get along and of course we have the usual intimate stories like a quiet affair between a Brit and a home spun lady from the U.S, a woman who is afraid she has lost a son in the attack on the World Trade Center and two very funny guys who spend the evening joking about their relationship. Alter 6 days the party is over and everything gets back to normal both aboard the departing planes and the town folks holding both good and bad memories.
Come From Away was first seen at the Seattle Rep and at La Jolla in 2015 and at Washington’s Ford theater last year. Super reviews all around. The music which I can only call a mixture of folk and rock by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is catchy and memorable and the ensemble cast who performs all the numbers are all incredibly talented. No one really shines out any more than anyone else. The orchestra is on the stage (that seems to be the norm these days) and there is nothing to look at except people in ordinary street and business clothes and a gaggle of revolving chairs. Oh I almost forgot the animals on board including a gorilla that emerged from one of the planes. Nice touch!
Come From Away runs an hour and forty minutes in a somewhat longish one act but, and it’s hard to believe, this is really an excellent musical despite the length.The audience I saw it with in a non press preview went ballistic which certainly bodes well for this unusual production. A must small-time see.