Review by Tatum Stafford
There are thousands of stories that pour out of tragic, historical events. Stories you can learn about in books, podcasts, documentaries, and through live theatre.
The stories that emerged from the small town of Gander in Newfoundland following the events of 9/11 are hard to comprehend, and so beautifully expressed in ‘Come From Away’, a musical written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, which opened at Perth’s Crown Theatre on Sunday 7 May.
There’s a reason this show is captivating audiences around the world. It has exquisitely simple staging, beautiful characters, a soaring score, and perfectly captures the emotions and events of such a fateful day for so many.
Having seen many of the show’s original cast on Broadway, I was really excited to see the Australian talent on offer in this fantastic ensemble piece - and I was not disappointed.
As mentioned above, the show is a glorious celebration of its entire ensemble, with each actor playing a character and ‘others’. It’d be impossible to single anyone out, so instead I’ll sing the praises of each individual actor who did such fantastic work.
Douglas Hansell (Kevin T and others) and Jeremy Carver-James (Kevin J and others, and a standby in the cast who stepped in for opening night) were clear crowd favourites, offering plenty of clever comic relief. Zoe Gertz (Beverley and others) showcased her soaring vocals in the epic anthem “Me and The Sky”, Manon Gunderson-Briggs was suitably frantic and compassionate as Janice (and others), and Kyle Brown (Bob and others) gave a captivating performance.
Other crowd favourites included Emma Powell’s empathetic Bonnie (and others), who shared a beautiful friendship with Sarah Nairne’s Hannah (and others). Kat Harrison was joyful as Bonnie (and others), and the relationship between Natalie O’Donnell (Diane and others) and Phillip Lowe (Nick and others) was absolutely gorgeous. Props also to standby Kaya Byrne, who stepped into the Oz and others track on opening night, and David Silvestri’s Claude (and others) - all of Silvestri’s roles were expertly crafted, and in some points, suitably hilarious.
It’d be remiss not to mention the show’s band, who are absolutely amazing, and are given a suitable moment (and ovation) after the show’s bows.
The beauty of this piece is its simplicity. Minimal set is used, and instead, the actors weave chairs and tables and props around one another; often changing outfits all at the same time. It is so beautifully choreographed (originally staged by Kelly Devine), that it’s often difficult to choose where to rest your eyes and enjoy a moment.
Every so often, a piece of theatre comes along that has unequivocally universal appeal. There is no doubt that whoever you are, wherever you come from, and whatever your taste in theatre leans towards, ‘Come From Away’ will leave a lasting mark and have an incredible impact.