Musicals have untraditionally been created to mark the strangest events, like the sinking of the Titanic, the men and women who have tried and often succeeded in assassinating presidents, spelling bees, flying cars, elves, groundhogs, missionaries for the Mormons, Superman and Spiderman, African animals, mental illness, monsters named Shrek, urine, and many more.
This time around the focus and attention is fixated on five days and some of the worst events in our country’s history, the destruction of towering buildings in New York City and government structures in Washington, D. C. on 9/11/2001. Ten years later husband and wifeDavid Hein and Irene Sankoff traveled to Gander, Newfoundland to record the amazing story of a humanitarian miracle. Without warning on that fateful day, 38 planes from all over the world were diverted to Gander, once a major stop for refueling for international flights, but long since abandoned as planes no longer needed to stop for more gas.The almost 6700 passengers on the planes, the pilots and the people of Gander had no idea what was happening. Without warning or preparation, the good citizens of the small town rushed to open their homes and hearts to those strangers, providing baby formula, dog food, pillows and blankets, casseroles, a place to sleep and comfort before the tragedy was even revealed.
Run to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts for a marvelous musical that captures the generosity of this small community of Canadians from Tuesday, April 30 to Sunday, May 5 as “Come From Away” soars into Hartford.
The planes were originally diverted for fear some were also part of the terrorist plot, like the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania forest. The 11,000 citizens of Gander didn’t stop to ask questions. The striking bus drivers immediately returned to work to ferry the passengersaround town. Twelve actors and seven musicians will take you on the journey of generosity, playing the passengers, pilots and people of Gander to musically illustrate the way good folks can respond with hope in the midst of devastating tragedy.
Come visit the dog catcher, the mayor, the chief of police, the first female pilot to command a major airline jumbo jet, a woman who fears her fireman son has been lost in the downing of the World Trade Center, a gay couple searching for acceptance, two strangers who find each other and romance and so much more.
This is a musical happening, brimming with spirit and patriotism, a tribute to faith and resilience, a gift of compassion in the face of tremendous loss. I was fortunate enough to see the birth of “Come From Away”at the Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals when the first staged reading took place and also attend the Broadway production the day Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought 500 of his people to see the show in New York on Canada’s 150th birthday.
For tickets ($23-109), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online atwww.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m.,Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
This is not a show to be missed. If nothing else, it will restore your faith in the innate goodness of neighbors to reach out and hug you with friendship and love.