‘Come From Away’ tells a beautiful story of kindness

Photo contributed by Abby Mortensen

Photo contributed by Abby Mortensen

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ABBY MORTENSON

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

When I first sat down in the Saenger The­atre in New Orleans on June 2, I didn’t know what to expect from the show I was seeing.

Come from Away is set following the planes grounded after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The production is based on true events, as U.S. airspace was closed, and planes were forced to land to ensure the safety of all. It follows a community in Canada and people from almost 40 planes that landed in Gander, Newfoundland.

The show has only eighteen performers, including standbys. This is a very small cast, when compared to shows like Wick­ed and Mean Girls that have ensembles of more than eighteen people. This makes Come From Away a more intimate show in that it’s not focusing on flashy dance numbers or huge groups on stage.

It has a very basic set that has signs and chairs that are moved for each scene of the show. The actual backdrop and large set pieces were not moved the entire show and created a simple design. This, like in Hamilton, helps to keep the audience’s attention on the story.

The cast was insanely talented. They told the story with their entire soul. With only twelve principle performers playing multiple roles each, the show was definitely confus­ing at first while trying to figure out who was who. Becky Gulsvig, who plays pilot Beverley Bass, absolutely stole the show with her song “Me and the Sky.” I will be the first admit that I am definitely not an expert on accents, but I think the cast did a pretty good job of manag­ing their Canadian accents and other accents including Middle Eastern and British.

For me, it takes a truly powerful perfor­mance to make me cry. I was wiping tears off my cheeks through the entire show. I started crying during the first song. With our gener­ation being too younger to remember 9/11, it tells the stories of people who were affected. For people who do remember, it brings back memories.

It tells a poignant story of humanity. The people of Gander gave everything they had to take care of the people who stayed there. They offered them places in their own homes and set up shelters for over 30,000 visitors. Their kindness was a saving grace for the people who ended up stuck in their town. The people can’t let their language barriers affect them because they have to help. It’s a real story about love, friendship, and identity. The show definitely has comedic moments, but it’s a very emotionally exhausting story.

I saw the national tour, which is currently in Canada but will be back in the U.S. soon.