|COME FROM AWAY|
As the world witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, thousands of international airline passengers found themselves stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, unable to get to the U.S. until American airspace reopened. Their stories, and those of the people in the community who looked after them, drive the heartfelt but overly sentimental original musical Come From Away, a Canadian import that could get lost amid all the blockbuster Broadway musicals opening in April.
While itís certainly refreshing to see a new musical that hasnít be adapted from an old film, Come From Away comes across as a tribute musical -- to those in a community of 9,000 who stepped up to help, house and feed 7,000 strangers in the wake of tragedy. It tries to tell so many little stories in an intermissionless 100 minutes -- many of them mere moments of kindness -- that thereís scant time to develop three-dimensional characters and substantial dramatic conflict. And the songs, by husband-and-wife writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, who also wrote the musicalís book, are pleasant but unmemorable.
The strongest number, ďMe and the Sky,Ē is sung by Jenn Colella, as a pioneering female pilot (based on real-life aviator Beverly Bass, who landed her plane in Gander that day). Sheís one of the many characters inspired by actual people that members of the 12-person American-Canadian ensemble play, deftly shifting from, say, a gay Angeleno to a Muslim Egyptian chef (as Caesar Samayoa does) with minimal costumes in the blink of an eye.
Also in the excellent cast are Chad Kimball (Memphis), who plays the other half of that gay Angeleno couple, who initially fear revealing their relationship to the locals and their fellow passengers, and Lee MacDougall and Sharon Wheatley as a British man and an American woman brought together by circumstance. Itís refreshing to see a musical cast with actors of varying ages, bodies and ethnicities (especially so many older women), and director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Kelly Devine keep the show focused and lively.
Come From Away makes it biggest impact early on, as planes are diverted to Gander and passengers struggle to reach loved ones and find out whatís happening. After that, itís packed with niceness. Given the divided state of our country today, thereís joy to be found in watching good folks look out each other. But itís not enough to send Come From Away soaring to theatrical heights.
By Diane Snyder
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Petrina Bromley, Geno Carr, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Lee MacDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Sharon Wheatley, Josh Breckenridge, Susan Dunstan, Tamika Lawrence, Tony LePage
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 2/18/2017
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036