Come From Away

September 11, 2001

If you were old enough to remember, you know where you were. You likely remember the pit in your stomach… the fear… the dread… the talk of war. 

Socially, our media and art response to this tragedy does not bear the markers of a healthy response to trauma. There were angry responses and demonizing of people. We repressed content such as any building destruction that could be viewed as talking about or referencing the events. In general, we tried to ignore and override the feelings of that day. 

The musical, “Come From Away” does more to heal and redeem hope in the human spirit concerning this event than any other media I’ve seen. There are great memorials like the 9/11 museum in New York, and shows that remember the firefighters, police, medical staff, and others who responded to the need-yet the focus of that content is often death. 

We need something more to restore hope than the memory of tragedies. Or as the show sings… “I need something to do ‘cause I can’t watch the news anymore.” Well, coming to this musical is what to do. 

Based on true events—and in many cases—the real people in Gander, Newfoundland that found themselves with 38 grounded passenger planes and 7,000 people in their small town, this is the story with the capacity to heal some of the hurt that lingers in those memories. It does not kiss us and make it all better, but the encouraging music, raw wit, belting lyrics, and momentum of the show sweeps the audience up in a buoyant celebration of the good nature of people. 

Nominated for six Tony awards (one win) and a Grammy, the production is already a proven product—as are nearly all broadway shows that go on the traveling circuit. The story is great, the music is great, so how was it at the Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia? 

The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy

They used an innovative minimal staging approach to represent everything from a plane to a cafe, from a bus to the great outdoors, with simply a turntable floor, 12 chairs, and a couple tables. 

The director’s choice to put the pit on stage, added an incredible dimension of reality throughout the scenes, even bringing some into the scenes. Well done, Christopher Ashley!

Their choreography and costuming reflected again the minimalistic approach with effective storytelling. 

Reviews of fellow attendees: “Fantastic!” “It had us laughing, crying, all the emotions, reliving it in a more personal way.”

As for standout singers and actors or actresses… Beulah played by Julie Johnson, Julia Knitel as the flight attendant and reporter, and Cailin Stadnyk as the Pilot. Incredible show by all 12 as well as the 8 instrumentalists. 

This show would be best viewed by those who understand the events, history, and content of the topic. I personally would take high-school students and adults. 

If you are anything like me, I recommend taking this medicine as a salve for the deep wounds of the soul you may not know still sulk in the corners of your heart. Come from wherever you are emotionally and let this take some of your cares Away.

Be sure to get your tickets for Come From Away while it graces the stage at the Kimmel Cultural Campus now through Sunday, February 12th.

The North American Tour of Come From Away. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy

*we were invited to to the show to facilitate a feature, all opinions are our own*

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