The cast of Come From Away. Photo: Matthew Murphy.

Come From Away

Book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Directed by Christopher Ashley

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2022 by  Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, twenty-eight planes were forced to land in Gander, a tiny town in Newfoundland Canada. The days that followed the tragedy were confusing, fearful, and sad. As townsfolk came together to help the overwhelming amount of misplaced passengers and pilots, a remarkable story of humanity and community arose from the shadows of tragedy. Broadway Across America brings Come From Away to Whitney Hall after a postponed tour stop due to Covid-19. And this production is nothing short of remarkable. 

Running just under two hours without an intermission, Come From Away uses basic staging, a couple of chairs and tables, and an onstage band of musicians to bring this story to life. Characters are dressed in jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. The staging, choreography, and movement are simple yet exquisitely effective.  The ensemble fulfills many different roles and approaches each character with clearly defined choices and personality traits. Characters address the audience and scenes are brief and move at a clip reminiscent of a documentary film. What is most resonant throughout the show is the question “what can be done” leading to extraordinary moments of resolution.

Within these real-life stories, the ensemble creates a strong sense of a community rich in traditions and rituals familiar to anyone. “Welcome to the Rock” is an invitation from the warm town of Gander while “Screech In” discloses the rites of passage of kissing a fish that might seem bizarre to outsiders. The theme of friendships and bonding rings clear throughout the performance. It is during “Prayer,” a medley of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish hymns and songs of praise where the ensemble shines in a moment of harmony and peace. 

The music by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is beautiful, elegant, upbeat, and moving. “Blankets and Bedding” and “Costume Party” serve as accurate descriptors of the community coming together to do what must be done to help. Marika Aubrey soars vocally with “I and the Sky ”while Christina Toy Johnson and Chamblee Ferguson are playfully falling in love with “Stop the World.” The ensemble carries the bulk of the musical numbers which create wonderful moments of compassion and hope in such a time of panic and fear, especially “38 Planes” and “Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere.” 

Broadway in Louisville has brought us another top-notch production. Full of wonderful music and a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, this show is a must-see. So take a visit to Gander while there is still time.

Cone From Away

February 15 -20, 2022

Broadway in Louisville
Kentucky Performing Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and as well. Thanks for reading!