After some ‘minor’ setbacks in the heady days of the year of Our Lord Twenty-hundred and Early Covid, the Broadway hit Come From Away is arriving in Sydney. Yes, it actually is, no, there are no more delays, yes, it’s here now, they’re in previews at the moment. But the irony is that this show is in no rush, the story is good and its worth waiting for. Indeed the original creators trusted it so much that, starting with a 45 minute version in 2012, and moving to a 4 hour production in 2013, they patiently waited through various “out of town” productions in the US and Canada before finally opening on Broadway in it’s current 1 hour 40 minute form nearly 4 years later in 2017. And it hasn’t closed (permanently) since…. neither has the London production…. and neither has the Australian production. And that’s… impressive for a show as humble as this.
The other impressive thing is the willingness of the original Ganderians and come-from-awayers, on whom the characters are based, to be involved in these productions. Indeed Beverley Bass, the pilot of an American Airlines Boeing 777 that was diverted to Gander on September 11 (and who’s character in the show sings “Me and The Sky”), travels the world attending productions and giving her time to the actresses that depict her. Ms Bass is not at the media call here in Sydney for obvious pandemic related reasons, however, 3 other original come-from-awayers and 1 Newfoundlaner are in the house, representing a tangible link with the history that is lovely to be involved in.
Come From Away is based on the events in Gander, Newfoundland in September 2001, during the turmoil created by the attacks on the twin towers and pentagon. Gander, a small town on an island off the east coast of Canada, was the recipient of 38 airliners and 6,600 passengers and crew that were diverted away form US airspace in the hours following the attacks. The obvious angel for a show like this would to be to concentrate on the fear and heartache of that terrible moment in time, but although the show doesn’t shy away from such aspects, it is far more a study in the glory of what can be found in these moments of despair. The humanity that shines through in the darkest of times.
The show is kind of anti music theatre, there is no grand set, there are no fancy costumes, there is no excess of props. It’s just 12 actors, a bunch of musicians and an eclectic collection of chairs and tables… thats it. There is an innate trust in the energy and talent of the actors and this wonderful story that is to be told. Come From Away is playing in Sydney at the Capitol Theatre and selling tickets from now until the end of August.
David Hooley is a Sydney based actor and photographer. For more information visit davidhooley.com or visit his Facebook or Instagram page.