Review: Come From Away

Musical comedy set in Canada in the aftermath of 9-11 evokes a myriad of emotions, standing ovation
Photo courtesy of Broadway Grand Rapids

We all have that moment in our memories, the moment when we found out: the phone call, the morning talk show or news program that was interrupted.

For me, I was in Times Square – rushing to work as usual with the millions of other nine to fivers – to my job as concierge at the Marriott Marquis. I walked off the elevator to a radio blaring so loudly I couldn’t believe the whole lobby wouldn’t be hearing it. Well, that was the point. I ran to turn it down and one of my colleagues said, “leave it on, someone just ran a plane into the World Trade Center.”

“What?” I thought to myself. “Some kind of suicide in a small plane, wow, how could someone choose to do that?”

Little did we know.

Then, within minutes, the second plane hit.

I tried to go about my business answering calls until our phones didn’t work due to the load on them. I saw a woman running down the escalator stairs from a conference, waving her hands in front of herself like it may be allowing her to breathe. I knew instantly that she knew someone at the Trade Center. Everyone ran to the fitness center to watch the TV to see what was going on. I was at the concierge desk that day for 12 hours. I rode the bus home, all the way to the Upper West side, instead of the decommissioned subways that night. When I got off the bus I smelled the fire all the way from downtown – six miles away.

The world would never be the same.

All of that came back to me in an instant as I watched the beginning of “Come From Away.” An engaging first scene (perfect set design by Beowolf Boritt), setting up the mayor of Gander, Newfoundland going about his usual morning and all the characters from the town doing the usual stuff, until they learned; their moment.

Perfectly captured: set, costumes, lighting, story.

Then we watched this little Newfoundland town spring into action to help the thousands of waylaid travelers with the myriad of needs and challenges you can only begin to imagine. Kudos to the writers of the show; deft, humorous, marvelous characters filled out by even more amazing actors. An ensemble cast that hasn’t a loose nut, but plenty of nutty humor sure to please. And the opening night audience was pleased. An instant standing ovation was made the moment the show finished. You simply have to get tickets to this show. 

With such an amazing cast, so cohesive and brilliant in their versatility, it’s hard to single anyone out but I did really appreciate James Earl Jones II who captured the guy from Jersey perfectly and made me think about the next pilot I might meet. (you’ll see!). Also, Danielle K. Thomas and Julie Johnson stood out in their scenes together as well as Marika Aubry as the pilot. Choreography was perfect and made everything on the minimal set come to life in the most believable way. It was such a joy to see a production that hasn’t one flaw and is filled with characters that you love. Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the musicians who brought it all together. Amazing performances all around.

You will love this show. Cancel your other plans and get tickets. Enjoy the hospitality of Gander and celebrate the season of Thankfulness right here in Grand Rapids.

Duration: 1hr, 40 mins with no intermission. Shows are nightly, Thursday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Nov. 13 (and two weekend matinees), at Devos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave NW, in Grand Rapids.

For show times and tickets, click here.

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