Review of Hit Musical Come From Away in Adelaide in 2023
by Carla Caruso
Come From Away has it all: charm, heart, and a brilliant score – all the more poignant if you remember where you were during the 9/11 attacks.
This musical, which has won Tony and Olivier awards, has done the unimaginable. It’s turned a story surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US into a feel-good success.
Come From Away has travelled the world since 2015 and has, at last, made it to Adelaide after delays due to the pandemic. It’s on at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 29 April 2023, and is well worth catching while you can.
The hit musical is based on the remarkable true story, in which 7000 passengers – from all over the globe – became stranded in a remote Canadian town in the wake of the attacks.
The town of Gander, on the island of Newfoundland, welcomed 38 planes, which were diverted for several days after the US shut down its airspace. Its population of 9000 almost doubled overnight.
Gander’s the kind of place, where “everything happens about half-an-hour later” and where you’re likely to encounter a moose in the middle of the road while driving. Think Northern Exposure meets Virgin River.
The musical does a wonderful job of capturing the generosity of the small-town community and makes you wonder whether you’d be as hospitable in such a crisis. (Or, alternatively, how well you’d cope if you were one of those in limbo.)
People opened their homes to the ‘come from aways’. They organised food, clothing, support, phones, access to the internet, and more.
The musical also makes you think about some of the logistics you wouldn’t ordinarily consider – like the fact that there were 19 animals in cargo too, which needed tending to (including two bonobo apes en-route to a zoo), and how to deal with the language and cultural barriers of travellers from 100 different countries.
Further, Come From Away does well at taking you right back to 9/11. A time before most had mobiles and trying to get news to and from home wasn’t easy. A time when airport security tightened up and things like nail scissors became banned from flights. And also a time when prejudice for the Muslim community rose, like when one male traveller has to undergo a humiliating strip search before re-boarding his plane.
Unlike some musicals, Come From Away doesn’t just go from one song to the other either, but keeps you on the edge of your seat with its storytelling.
Some of its ditties will make you laugh while others will move you – like the number, Something’s Missing, with the stranded passenger, Hannah, looking for news of her firefighter son back in New York.
The set is kept simple throughout, with seats transforming from those on a plane to chairs at a community centre and beyond, and the various performers swing effortlessly between different roles.
What’s especially charming, too, is that most of the characters are based on real-life people. This includes Captain Beverley Bass, the first female pilot for American Airlines, and Nick and Diane Marson, the British businessman and American woman who cross paths while stranded and fall in love.
One thing that may confuse you at first during the performance is that the Newfoundlanders speak with an Irish lilt, though it’s set in Canada. As I’ve since learned, the island has a deep Irish heritage and generations of Irish descendants have created a distinctive subculture there.
Come From Away has a running time of an hour and 40 minutes, with no interval (for you or the hardworking performers).
The recommended viewing age is 10+, as there is some swearing, kissing and, in one scene, bra-flashing!
As it’s been said before, this musical is a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest of times, and the triumph of humanity over hate.
What other team members thought about Come From Away:
★★★★★ This inspiring, powerful and very witty musical will not only make you laugh and cry but leave you with a renewed sense of the kindness of strangers in the midst of tragedy and hardship. Featuring an incredible cast, an amazing score and a captivating story based on true events that occurred in the wake of 9/11, you will find yourself recounting the songs, the lilting Newfoundland accents and the characters long after the show is finished. This is musical theatre at its brilliant best!
★★★★★ Who would expect a musical about the events following the 9/11 tragedy to be uplifting, funny and marvellously entertaining? Not many, I’d wager, and yet Come From Away is all those things and much more!
Come From Away tells the true story of passengers of planes diverted from US airspace to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, and the good-hearted locals who put their lives on hold to ensure 7000 frightened travellers had food, clothing, shelter and a sense of community.
This production is simply amazing. The cast play both the passengers and the Newfoundlanders, assisted by simple but effective stage props and lighting. It seems unusual at first, but the actors slip into their different roles seamlessly, impressively changing characters and accents in a matter of moments.
The musical score is wonderfully enjoyable especially the ending when the band comes out from behind the scenes and plays up a folk-rock storm.
This true story of the kindness and generosity of a small town community in a time of crisis will blow you away. You’ll want to up and move to Gander and “kiss the cod” to become an honorary Newfoundlander! Highly recommend.
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post. The Play & Go team review via media accreditation and when kindly invited.
Image Source: Come From Away
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