“This heartwarming, 100-minute show is showing all of its peers what good, modern theatre looks like and we welcome it with open arms”
New musicals, Broadway transfers, revivals and new renditions of classics are flying into the West End left, right and centre recently. But if one show deserves your attention, it’s Come From Away. This Tony-Award winning, Broadway showstopper of a show left no time to waste with its transfer to London’s Phoenix Theatre. This heartwarming, 100-minute show is showing all of its peers what modern theatre looks like and we welcome it with open arms.
Come From Away tells the story of thirty-eight (7,000 passengers) planes that were told to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada during the devastating 9/11 attacks. When the small town more than doubles their population overnight, they all come together to help make their new arrivals feel welcome and safe in a time of terrible uncertainty.
The show focuses on human kindness and character stories – the ensemble cast of 12 collectively play over 100 characters in the show – a lot based on the real people involved in this experience back in 2001. In today’s ever-changing times, it’s great to have a show that reflects where we are right now. Not only to discuss it and dissect it but also to celebrate it – and this show does exactly that.
The cast is simply flawless. Clive Carter gives a reassuringly warm and enjoyable performance as Claude, the Mayor of Gander and Rachel Tucker brings her musical stardom to the stage as first female captain of American Airlines, Beverly Bass. But every cast member is given multiple times to shine and does so. Some characters are as deeply constructed as the songs they sing, and others can be described in three words – but what more can you expect from a cast trying to be more than 7,000 people.
Christopher Ashley’s direction is smooth and stylistically stunning. The lighting, grand but minimal set and movement all blend perfectly into Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s beautiful score. Come From Away is a stage musical – you won’t get the same reaction from listening to its soundtrack. Everything on stage is there for a reason and is all the richer for it. Particular highlights are “28 hours / Wherever We Are”, near the beginning of the planes landing, “Me and The Sky”, Beverly Bass’ uplifting celebration solo and “Somewhere In The Middle of Nowhere”, a perfectly harmonised company coming together over their newly found home.
Come From Away has landed in the West End at the perfect time! Let’s hope they don’t fly back anytime soon!
Words: Tomm J Ingram