4.5 out of 5 stars
For this generation, many of us still can remember where we were on the fateful day when the planes flew into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Even though it happened in the United States, this was an attack that struck the world's heart. Almost every country had a representative of their nation who perished within the walls of these buildings or on the planes.
While the action occurred in New York, Washington DC, and in Pennsylvania, there were passengers in other planes who were flying over US airspace who were unaware of the disaster. Air traffic controllers had to divert these planes to other cities while determining their response to these terrorist attacks. One airfield that was able to accommodate many of these planes was in Newfoundland, Canada. Yet, the township of Gander could never imagine that they would be housing over 7000 passengers from 38 flights from around the world.
This sounds like a set up for a docudrama, but who could have thought of this as a Tony Award-winning musical? Come From Away is a fascinating depiction of the dramatic and comical events of this international disaster. This musical interpretation initially relishes in showcasing the unique cultural atmosphere of small-town Canada. Unaware of the events that would change their community, Christopher Ashley's production captures the heartwarming and humorous elements that make this area of the country specially equipped for such an event.
As the situation unfolds in New York, the village begins to know all of the incoming flights are on their way. They spring to action to accommodate the passengers wherever they can. Then things start to be expressed as the show begins to unpack the lives of all of the souls who have arrived in Canada with little awareness of the imminent history occurring around them. From the pilots to the individuals from different faiths to the strangers who become friends, the music helps us experience how the ripple effects of 9/11 reached around the globe. By touching on the emotional toll it took on those who were unable to get their loved ones, they managed to show the beautiful connections many formed by bonding during this tragic time.
COVID kept this stage production from being made into a feature-length film. Still, the producers could film the musical at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in May of 2021. Apple+ acquired the distribution rights and they were able to release the film on the 20th anniversary of the attacks. Which could not have been better timed and offers a wonderfully endearing way for audiences to commemorate these memories. By bringing together the affecting songs that brought this unexpected cultural explosion to life, they capture these days of tragedy and give us hope in humanity.
What is compelling about the performance is how it is all handled by twelve performers who embody multiple characters throughout each act. This talented cast takes on various accents and lifestyles with convincing results that help us be drawn into this community. These performances show how the writers embraced the mess of this situation and expose how all involved made it a life-changing experience for all. Come From Away becomes a cultural and historical musical that should be seen by all looking for a fresh perspective on this time in our lives.
Reel Dialogue: How do you deal with life when it seems that nothing is going right?
Stories like this one may make you wonder how people go on when many struggles come their way. There are multiple means of finding answers shown in this stage production, including alcohol, human kindness, and faith. Within this mixture of cultures, there is an honourable depiction of God and the Bible. Through song and even a direct reference to the writings of Paul, God's Word makes its way into the scripting. Which leads us back to the original question, where can people find hope during trials?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7
In an attempt to avoid being trite, an excellent place to turn is to the God of the Bible. The instructional side of Peter's words is to understand that you need help, trusting that God can help you at all times. Because he cares for you, you can give all of your concerns and difficulties over to him. During times of problems, this is a place of hope and help.