By Laura Lynott
FORGET every single notion you had about musicals and think to yourself, do I want to get that warm, fuzzy, Christmas feeling and be reminded of the power of human kindness?
It is a masterful stroke to transition away from a catastrophe that to this day evokes tears, as one contemplates the loss of almost 3,000 innocent people, to find the deeper human reaction that is a saviour in even the darkest of hours.
A packed house laughs and claps, as though they are part of this on stage party – a light shining as a beacon – as one small, unknown town on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, opens its heart to the ‘plane people’ 6,700 strangers who were transferred there as the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were targeted by terrorists hijacking planes.
The stand out performance of the show comes from Rachel Tucker (Wicked) who plays Beverley Bass, one of the first female pilots hired by American Airlines in 1976. Tucker’s outstanding voice traces the story of a woman who broke down barriers to achieve her dream to fly and suddenly battled with demons that terrorism had utilised her chariot, the plane, as a weapon.
And moments of true and easy comedic prowess come from the extremely talented Nathanael Campbell, who plays the young, street smart man, Bob, who simply cannot settle into the town of Gander in Newfoundland, where he keeps expecting his wallet to be stolen.
Soon Bob with the rest of us, realise that Gander isn’t just any place and street rules certainly don’t apply here. As he wanders the neighbourhood snatching barbecue sets, on the orders of one of the local mayor’s, he realises this isn’t stealing because all residents want him to have the barbecues – after all, they will be utilised for one mass party for the ‘plane people.’
During the show we see how islanders open up their homes, their lives and their hearts, to provide a temporary home for days to the stranded travellers until American airspace is deemed safe to once again fly in.
The show is opened with a party, a traditional music band, who return in the middle, to welcome the new islanders and finish the play with one more resounding gig. Every single audience member took to their feet as the party atmosphere eminated throughout the theatre. For we must remember, tragedy cannot own our humanity and it seems the humble town of Gander, reminded us of this very vital lesson.
Come From Away was written Irene Sankoff and David Hein and is directed by Christopher Ashley, with musical staging by Kelly Devine, music supervision and arrangements by Ian Eisendrath, scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestrations by August Eriksmoen, and casting by Pippa Ailion and Natalie Gallacher.
If you want to see the show, you’d better be quick as tickets are selling fast. Log onto the Abbey Theatre website here
The show finishes its run on Saturday, January 19 before it moves to the West End.