The Latest On “Come From Away” Musical
The Celebrated Musical From La Jolla Returns For A Gala Engagement
When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, the FAA instituted a blanket airspace shutdown at 9:26 AM. Over 4,000 flights landed immediately at the nearest airport. For US-bound European flights, that meant an unscheduled detour to Canada, and 38 of them wound up in Gander, Newfoundland. The town of roughly 10,000 people found itself playing host to 7,000 anxious strangers for nearly a week.
These are the true facts that inspired “Come From Away,” a musical that originally premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2015. After making a huge splash in Washington, DC, Toronto, and Seattle, the show headed for Broadway. Previews of the Broadway show are starting on February 18, but before that, the production is returning for a single encore. The celebratory La Jolla show will be a cornerstone of the Playhouse’s 2017 gala on February 4.
The creative team behind the musical is the husband-and-wife writing duo of Irene Sankoff and David Hein. They started workshopping “Come From Away” at the Canadian Music Theater Project. The pair interviewed hundreds of people, both Gander natives and “come from aways” – the preferred local nickname for non-Newfoundlanders. The result of their study is an ensemble play with multiple roles for 12 actors all coming together for an uplifting message: Sometimes the worst circumstances can inspire ordinary people to become extraordinary.
In between engagements in Washington and Toronto last October, the show detoured to Gander to show the people who inspired “Come From Away” what their history had created. The town’s hockey arena became a rudimentary theater. The two budget performances each sold out completely, allowing two sets of 2,500 locals to see the show.
Half of the town came out, and the amount of emotion on display was truly awe-inspiring, said Ashley. There were shared laughs and shared tears, and the crowd’s reaction to the climax of the story was something absolutely unique in her experience.