You may have never heard of Gander. It is, after all, a tiny town with just 9.000 inhabitants. However, it is here that Come From Away is based. This moving production beautifully helps to tell one of the most upsetting and shocking stories of our generation all through the lives of those who happened to be in the right place, at the right time – and found refuge in Gander.
Showing right now at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End, Come From Away tells the incredible story of what happened when, due to the fatal 9/11 attack in Manhattan, 38 pilots were ordered to land their planes of all shapes and sizes in a remote town – taking with them 7.000 passengers.
As the residents of Gander started to see what was happening, they rallied around to welcome in their new guests with beautiful consequences – many fueled with Irish whisky.
This wonderful production focuses on the empathy, strength and hope that came out of 9/11, and the writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein have done an excellent job of coming up with a musical that focuses more on the celebration of life as opposed to mourning.
Whilst on Broadway, Come From Away was nominated for seven Tony Awards and won Best Direction of a Musical.
The show is directed by Christopher Ashley, who has done a fantastic job of offering a clean-cut and professional approach and encourages the actors to push forward the entire musical.
The cast is truly wonderful and their innocence and gentle naivety help to portray the confusion that would have been at hand. Bob, played by Nathanael Campbell, has some hilarious scenes. One in particular had us laughing from our bellies; Bob is tasked to steal grills from backyards to help cook more food which leads to a series of comedic events!
Kevin J and Kevin T, played by Jonathon Andrew Hume and David Shannon provide a wonderful on-stage partnership, and Emma Salvo who plays several roles is truly amazing but really excels in her role as the reporter, Janice.
However, one performance really stands out for us; Rachel Tucker (of Wicked fame) plays pilot Beverley Bass and truly shook the audience with her vocal technique.
Overall, the whole production has this fantastic ability to draw the audience in with characters that we can all relate to and become familiar with. This is the true beauty of this play; there is no need for a fancy set or mind-boggling effects. This musical is blessed with a set of characters that could carry the whole production, allowing for a brilliant show that truly left us wanting more!