Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Flawless. What do you say about a show that is flawless? How do you put into words the pure joy and the soulfulness that Come From Away achieves? How do you describe the perfectly oiled machine that has not lost its heart, energy and impact over time? Come From Away is the perfect show, and it is also perfectly cast. As a reviewer I make it a rule not to give too much away as to how I have felt about a show in the moment – so I never give a standing ovation. However, at the conclusion, of what has to be the best 100 minutes of theatre I have witnessed, I did not hesitate to leap to my feet, as did every single patron around me. That action said more than this review every possibly could. I will endeavor to try though to articulate the perfection that is Come From Away.
Everyone has a 9/11 story – where you were when you heard, what you felt the first time you saw that footage, what you did that day, how it changed your world – our world – forever. But there’s no 9/11 story that exemplifies that strength of the human spirit, the capacity for comradery in times of struggle or the human ability for generosity, as this one does.
The true story of the Newfoundlanders who opened their homes to over 7000 people is almost unbelievable. They didn’t sleep for 4 days, they cooked for strangers, gave their clothes, supplies and most importantly, they opened their hearts, just to give 7000 terrified, angry and confused people some hope and comfort.
The show itself is, as stated above, flawless. The music is faultless, the band – perfect, the score has not a flaw, the harmonies are blended and dreamily balanced. Every dynamic variation is impeccably rehearsed, every acting choice is organic, believable and authentic. There is not a weak member of the cast – no-one stands out and yet no-one lets the team down. Yet, somehow, they are also, all incredible and unique. They are the most cohesive ensemble that I have ever had the pleasure to watch. The set is brilliant, subtle and effective – the choreography perfectly complimenting every situation.
It's a show that stimulates the lover of intellectual musical theatre, it gives layers of complexity, ingenuity and brilliance that you could spend hours dissecting. At the same time it services the musical theatre lover who just wants to enjoy a show, who buys a ticket for pure entertainment – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you won’t regret a second of it.
Claude Elliot, the mayor of Gander, who is portrayed in the show by David Silvestri, makes a special appearance at the end of the show. Just in case you haven’t cried enough at the gut-wrenching true stories and heartfelt generosity of the Newfoundlanders, Claude Elliott tugs at the heartstrings just by walking onstage. And then he speaks. His message is a simple one – that if there was ever a time when the world needed displays of human kindness, love and compassion – it’s now. He says he is lucky to live in a community where anyone would, and did, give everything they had, just for a small thank you and a smile. The Newfoundlanders found light in a time when the world was lost, hurt, angry, when there seemed to be no way forward. And in turn, “the plane people” too were filled with light and joy. Their acts of kindness were not grand gestures to them, but just an exhibit of human decency – and the right thing to do. Come From Away is a show that leaves you wanting to be the best version of yourself, to be grateful for what you have in this moment and fills your soul with light.
So there are two things I would encourage you to do today.
The first was Claude Elliot’s request to the audience – to smile and say thank you to someone today – just because you can.
The second is to buy a ticket to this show. It will be the greatest investment in theatre and in your own self-betterment you have ever made. That I can promise you.