NAC review: Come From Away inspires with uplifting story, versatile cast

Come From Away

Aug. 20-Sept. eight, National Arts Centre

Reviewed Tuesday

There’s no large star in Come From Away, no heroic character to swoop in and save the world from the evils of terrorism. Instead, the musical story in regards to the occasions in Gander, N.L. on 9/11 makes the purpose that all of us have the facility to make issues higher for others. 

This inspiring message anchors the hit present that premiered on Broadway in 2017 and continues to be operating there, though it’s simply attending to Ottawa this week as a part of the Broadway Across Canada sequence. 

It’s an unabashedly feel-good manufacturing that units out as an example the kindness, generosity and tacky jokes of the residents of Gander on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre and America’s airspace was closed for the primary time in historical past. On a day that began like some other, dozens of planes sure for the U.S. have been ordered to land at Gander, a former Cold War base with an enormous airport that has a convention of being an emergency touchdown spot for planes crossing the Atlantic. 

On today, air site visitors over your complete continent was thrown into chaos because the Twin Towers got here down, and near 7,000 passengers from around the globe discovered themselves stranded in Gander, virtually doubling the city’s inhabitants. 

The present begins with Welcome to the Rock, a rousing musical quantity that introduces among the townspeople, together with a trainer, police officer, the mayor and a Tim Hortons employee, earlier than shifting to the air-traffic management tower, the swap achieved with a neat little bit of lighting design. 

Thirty-eight trans-Atlantic planes loaded with passengers jockey for area on the tarmac, the place they sit for an agonizing 28 hours as airline workers try and preserve everybody calm. In the times earlier than large cellphone use, data on what had occurred was laborious to return by. To go the time, passengers watch motion pictures, drink tiny bottles of alcohol and take a look at to not freak out. 

To additional complicate issues, there’s a bus drivers’ strike taking place in Gander, too, one of many many small, real-life particulars that underscore the drama of the occasions. Eventually the drivers get again to driving, and are capable of ferry the frightened, pressured and somewhat drunk travellers to shelters.  

Another fascinating facet to the story is the plight of the animals crated within the planes’ holds. They might have been ignored if not for the tireless efforts of an SPCA employee who takes on the duty of looking for them. She discovers cats, canine and even a pair of uncommon chimpanzees, one among them pregnant, and makes certain they’re cared for, too. 

As the guests from around the globe settle in for what can be a five-day go to to Gander, a few of their tales emerge: A homosexual couple from L.A. worries about the potential for homophobic rednecks in Newfoundland. A New Yorker wonders find out how to safe his pockets whereas he sleeps. The mom of a New York City firefighter is at her wits’ finish as a result of she will’t attain her son. Meanwhile, sparks fly between two different passengers, plus we get to know the pilot answerable for the aircraft, who’s needed to fly since she was a bit woman.

Of course, no saga from Newfoundland is full with out humour and folks music. Despite the stress, there are a number of laugh-out-loud moments within the interactions between residents and guests, making it clear that humour is without doubt one of the greatest coping mechanisms. At the bottom level, when everybody’s nerves are frayed, a celebration takes place on the Legion, and spirits are lifted with music, dancing, alcohol and a screeching-in ceremony. 

In one other notably compelling scene, Jews, Christians and Muslims all pray collectively, their hymns woven in a single harmonic chant of unity. 

With e book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the present calls for a versatile cast. Each of the 12 performers play a number of roles they usually’re all achieved, making it actually a feat of ensemble work. 

The songs are nice, too, combining sturdy choruses with rock ’n’ roll and Celtic-inspired folks music, carried out by an eight-piece band, the musicians hidden within the timber on set. The costumes consist of standard rural-Canadian duds, and the staging is uncomplicated, with a lot of the motion taking place on a collection of mismatched wood chairs.

In the tip, the actual star of Come From Away is the townspeople of Gander, who sprang into motion to make the guests welcome in the course of the disaster, demonstrating a degree of hospitality and empathy that’s properly price a musical celebration. Yes, the world modified on 9/11, however this present supplies a reminder that people can nonetheless make it a greater place. 

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