After we saw the musical Come From Away at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto my husband and I went to a nearby pub to talk about it. We both loved the instrumentalists whose Celtic music accompanied the show. We thought the story telling was superb. Sometimes in a musical all the singing detracts from the story. In Come From Away it certainly does not. For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with the story of Come From Away it is based on the true experiences of the residents of Gander Newfoundland and what happened when some 7000 airplane passengers were stranded in their town during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
The people of that small community literally opened their homes and hearts and public spaces to all these strangers from around the world feeding them, entertaining them, caring for them and building relationships with them. The musical shows us what a diverse group of people emerged from the 38 planes stranded in Gander. There were folks from many different countries, who spoke many different languages, followed many different religions and were of different races. There were people from different social classes and different income levels and different sexual orientations. Somehow they all managed to become friends and care for one another and support each other in a time of crisis.
We are at a point in history when the ruling political party in the United States wants to build a wall and shut their doors to people who are in a desperate situation, when racial discrimination and anti-Semitism seem to be rearing their ugly heads once again, when the American president issues edicts to ban Muslims from his country and stop transexual people from serving in the military. At a time like that it is refreshing and inspiring to see a musical where differences between people are celebrated and seen as strengths, where doors are opened and not closed to those in need.
There’s a scene near the end of a play when a woman from New York and a woman from Gander who have become friends are talking on the phone. They like to share jokes. The woman from Gander says…… “Want to hear a Newfie joke?” The woman from New York familiar with the routine says, “Knock, knock” and the woman from Newfoundland says “Come on in. The door’s open.”
That’s the essence of the play. All these strangers in need knocked on the door in Gander and the local people there said, “Come on in.” Wouldn’t it be great if our world worked like that?
The musical Come From Away sells out wherever it is staged in Toronto, New York, Winnipeg and in 2019 its going to be in Dublin, London and Sydney. I bought our tickets four months ago and there were only a few seats still available that long before the performance.
My husband and I decided a big reason why Come From Away has become so popular is because even though the events in the drama happened nearly two decades ago they provide a message of hope for our time and inspire kindness. It portrays our world the way so many of us wish it could be.