9/11 is an event that changed the world forever. The footage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers as well as the Flight 93 passengers standing up in a moment of darkness are moments that have been engraved in Americans’ brains. Except, no one really knows about what happened to the other planes that same day. That’s where “Come From Away” tells the story of 38 airplanes and one small island town.
On Feb. 27, Point Park students had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway musical “Come From Away,” on the alternative spring break trip through the Honor’s Program. “Come From Away” is the winner of Best New Musical at the 2019 Olivier Awards. It’s been on Broadway for over three years now and welcomes people from all over to learn the story of how the island town of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada welcomed in the world when it needed them most.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration shut down the airspace. The planes from Europe were forced to land in the town of Gander. The small town of about 10,000 people now had 6,579 passengers join their town. Instead of leaving the passengers on their own, the townspeople took them in, no matter where they were from. They took care of them in any way that they could, treating them like family.
If you ask people who have seen the show, there are mixed reviews. Some people absolutely love it, but others fell asleep during it. Going into the show, there’s no clue what to expect.
The theater itself is perfect for the show, there are great views from every seat, and it truly immerses the audience into the story even from the back of the mezzanine.
Before the show starts, there’s no curtain-just a set of 12 chairs, three tables, some trees on each side and the band members on each side in the back corners. There is a light blue and yellowish brownish stain to the wood floor and backset wall. It all peaks interest in what exactly is about to happen.
Then the show starts, the lights go out, the whole cast walks out and stomps their feet along to the drumbeat, which is the only thing playing at first. The audience is then welcomed to the island Gander by the townspeople. From there on, it’s a heartwarming story with plenty of comedy and heartbreaking points.
The audience begins to attach onto the characters from the start, possibly picking a favorite or one who speaks to them. All of the cast and characters stand out in their own way. Though, Kevin and Kevin, two men in a relationship together, are a crowd favorite due to their comedy. But all the other characters show their hearts and add comedic aspects which make the audience fall in love with the entire cast.
The music is outstanding, mostly fueled from the beat of the drums. The instruments help carry the story as there’s typically some type of sound in the background, which makes the silence at points during the show deafening. The band is talented as well. They interact with the cast during some of the scenes and continue to play flawlessly while immersing themselves into the story.
The music is combined with the immaculate voices of the cast. The cast doesn’t try to be perfect, they add accents to the songs, they add emotion to them and it results in a raw sound. The raw sound makes the show seem so much more real. It’s not like the cast tries to take the audience to a fantasy land, they’re showing them real life.
The most amazing part about “Come From Away,” though, is that the story of around 17,000 people is told by this talented cast of 12. The cast members each play at least two characters as well as a number of townspeople and passengers. Just by the slight change of costumes and accents, they portray an entire story of those from all over the world.
“Come From Away” is a show that should be seen without listening to it first. It should be an experience that audiences are just dropped into with no previous knowledge of the show. It reminds people of the one time in the life where everyone in the world was at peace with each other in the middle of chaos. It represents an important part of history and humanity.
Between the music, the story, and the outstanding cast and band, it’s a musical that everyone should experience at least once. It gives people chills as well as loud laughs. It’s the perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, story and music. The reason it’s considered one of the best musicals in North America is that it’s completely different from every other musical out there—it’s telling an important true story in a way that transports people to that time and makes them feel many different emotions. “Come From Away” is making an impact, and it’s creating a movement that no one will soon forget, especially the Point Park students who had the pleasure of seeing it.