Come From Away
deserves all its plaudits
Tony-winning Canadian musical comes to Place des Arts
By Byron Toben
Come From Away, the Canadian-born musical celebrating the humanity of ordinary Newfoundlanders upon having 38 planes with 7000 passengers thrust upon them in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, has justly received many awards. These include winning two Tonys, three Drama Desks and four Outer Critics Circle awards, not to mention a ton of nominations for various categories.
This heart-warming show has finally come to Montreal, after winning fans in the USA and Canada, Dublin, London and Australia. It has now surpassed The Drowsy Chaperone as the Canadian-origin show with the most performances on Broadway.
As one who has covered the Montreal fringe since its origin, I cannot resist mentioning that the creators, Irene Sankoff and David Hein got their first notice with a hit with a different piece they presented at the Toronto Fringe. So, Fringers everywhere toiling away, this low cost entry can reap results.
The current road show version at the Place des Arts features 12 actors, 15 songs, eight musicians and a clever set which, thanks to a turntable floor and strategic lighting, morphs easily between airplane interiors and the landing airport at Gander. Built during World War II, Gander had huge space as allied planes of the day needed to refuel en route to Europe.
This heart-warming show has finally come to Montreal, after winning fans in the USA and Canada, Dublin, London and Australia.
All the cast (and the 4 standbys) have stage creds galore. This is truly an ensemble effort as ten of the songs are sung by the full company.
The zesty opening number, Welcome to the Rock, hints that this might be, literally, a rock opera. But no, that reference is to Newfoundland’s geography as an island rock in the ocean. The music is basically a mix of pop and folk.
The mayor, Claude (Kevin Carolan) leads the company in introducing the stranded passengers to a local alcoholic beverage in Screech In. With some reluctance, they are made honorary Newfies by kissing a codfish.
A pilot, Beverly (Marika Aubrey) leads the female company in Me and the Sky.
The townsfolk take in the strangers without regard to colour, sexual orientation or creed. These include an observant Jew, two Muslims, a gay male couple and two blacks.
Finally, the air curfew ends and flights resume. Ten years later, many return to visit their newfound friends in Newfoundland.
There may be a general film release of this musical in the future, but I suggest, don’t wait. Catch it now if you can.
Come From Away at the Place des Arts until December 1.
Feature image: Matthew Murphy
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.