Broadway in Cincinnati’s “Come From Away” is a Rollercoaster of Emotions Ending in Joy
Posted On September 18, 2019
Review By Liz Eichler of ”Come From Away”: Broadway in Cincinnati
“Come From Away” is one of the most emotional theatre experiences I’ve had in a long time. From the thunderous standing ovation as it opened in Cincinnati last night, you will feel the same. It is a rollercoaster of emotions for people who have vivid memories of September 11, 2001. From the dive into despair and horror, to the twists and turns trying to reach your family members, to the airborne exuberance of knowing your family is safe, to the internal drive to be with a community to share and pray. It is emotional labor, giving birth to joy in humanity.
Beautifully presented by a cast full of warmth and variety with wonderful charming Celtic style music, this show will touch your heart in many ways. It is the story of America that day, and the distinct differences of our neighbors to the north. “Come From Away” is the story of the 38 planes who were diverted to the airport in remote Newfoundland, Canada, when all airspace was closed for days after the 9/11 bombings. Almost 6,000 people landed in a tiny island town which was up to the task. Newfies (people from Newfoundland) are some of the kindest, most giving people on the planet. They were united by their culture and community and naturally shared their homes, food, and hearts, understanding people lost and in pain.
Book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, it was workshopped in 2012 in Toronto and finally made it to Broadway in 2017, where it was nominated for seven awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actress in a Musical, and won Best Direction of a Musical for Christopher Ashley.
That stellar direction lives on this this touring version, with the cast knowing every inch of the set (designed by Beowulf Boritt) making chairs and backdrop come alive as airplanes, cliffs, beds, and myriad of other places.
The individual and group stories are told by a cast of twelve playing multiple roles, swiftly and seamlessly, so it is a true ensemble effort. So many characters stood out. But shout outs to Marika Aubrey (Beverley the Captain), Kevin Carolan (Claude the Mayor), James Earl Jones II (Bob and others), Julie Johnson (Beulah and others), gosh, and just all of the performers who showed the love on stage.
“Prayer” is an uplifting moment as passengers of many faiths worship together, “Screech In” is one of the many joyful songs reflecting the revelry of the island people. “I am Here” captures the empty space of not knowing where your loved one was, at a time many still did not have cell phones.
A great highlight after the show is when the live band comes out from the wings playing the fiddles, pipes, and drums, treating us to some Newfoundler music.
When I see a new musical, I oddly wonder how it will translate to the high school and college productions. This will be a challenge and a joy for any school community, and will continue to pass on this very important story of the people who showed our hearts will go on, despite evil in this world.
“Come From Away” is here is Cincinnati through September 29, as part of the Broadway in Cincinnati series. Produced without an intermission, it soars. Contact cincyarts.org for tickets.