Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Come from Away
Ford's Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Blackberry Daze


The Cast
Photo by Carol Rosegg
Audiences dealing with confrontation and anger in their lives can take a sweet vacation to a world where people care for and about each other at Come from Away, the warm hug of a musical now at Ford's Theatre in Washington. The work by Irene Sankoff and David Hein arrives in Washington following runs in Seattle and La Jolla and plans to go to Broadway early next year.

Sankoff and Hein have created a big-hearted docu-musical about what happened in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001. The shutdown of U.S. airspace following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania meant that 38 U.S.-bound planes were forced to make unscheduled landings in Gander, almost doubling the population of the town. The community and its neighbors immediately pulled together, providing emergency shelter and food for a week, bridging the language barrier (the "come-from-aways" came from all parts of the world) and building friendships.

Director Christopher Ashley skillfully balances the humor and the sadness, showing how the people of Gander reached out to unfamiliar people and made them part of their family.

The musical begins with a propulsive opening number introducing the town, led by Claude (Joel Hatch), the mayor; Kelly Devine's choreography has both heart and soul. Music supervisor Ian Eisendrath joins seven other musicians onstage in performing a score that melds Newfoundland folk with elements of the visiting cultures.

When the town of Gander held a 10th-anniversary reunion in 2011, the authors attended and conducted hours of interviews with residents and come-from-aways, distilling the stories into a tight one hour and 45 minutes without intermission. The all-encompassing spirit comes through most directly in a musical scene that interweaves Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu prayers.

A highly capable cast of 12, all with Broadway and/or regional credits, slide easily from one character to another: for example, Chad Kimball's roles include a Gander school bus driver on strike, a gay businessman named Kevin, and the televised image of President George W. Bush. While some characters have less time than others (Africans who don't speak English, an Orthodox rabbi, an Egyptian facing suspicious fellow passengers), others have a more central role: Beverley (Jenn Colella), an American Airlines pilot horrified that anyone could use airplanes as bombs; Bonnie (Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan), a local SPCA worker looking after animals being transported on the stopped flights; Hannah (Q. Smith), mother of a New York City firefighter; and Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and Nick (Lee MacDougall), who begin as strangers and become very close very fast.

Ford's Theatre
Come from Away
September 2nd - October 9th, 2016
Book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
Oz and others: Geno Carr
Annette/Beverley and others: Jenn Colella
Claude and others: Joel Hatch
Bob and others: Rodney Hicks
Janice and others: Kendra Kassebaum
Bonnie and others: Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
Garth/Kevin 1 and others: Chad Kimball
Doug/Nick and others: Lee MacDougall
Kevin 2 and others: Caesar Samayoa
Hannah and others: Q. Smith
Beulah and others: Astrid Van Wieren
Diane and others: Sharon Wheatley
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Choreography by Kelly Devine
Music supervisor: Ian Eisendrath
511 Tenth St., N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-347-4833 or www.fords.org


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