Watch Jamie Campbell and mum Margaret open up.
Running on Broadway since 2017, the Tony Award-winning Come From Away is now open in London’s West End.
The musical has celebrated widespread acclaim, not least bagging the Outstanding Broadway Musical award at the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards and the coveted Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, won by Christopher Ashley – who returns to direct the UK production. Breaking records on Broadway, across the United States, and into Canada, the show has proven to be a sell-out success.
With a story based on the beauty of humanity in the face of tragedy, here’s what you need to know about Come From Away.
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, 38 planes are diverted to the small community of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. Met by 7,000 strangers, the people of Gander battle with mistrust and unease to offer hope and homes to those uprooted from their everyday lives. The musical explores the interpersonal relationships, and the positives of humanity, all blossoming on the Canadian island.
As director Christopher Ashley told us when we caught up with him and the cast in Dublin ahead of the show’s premiere there last year, “Ultimately it’s a story about kindness and generosity and taking care of each other and it’s a real pleasure to tell that story now in a world that finds it challenging to take care of people from other cultures.”
The universal tale has seen sell-out runs on Broadway and in Canada, a North American tour, and is confirmed to open in Australia in the summer of 2019. There is also a feature film in the works.
The UK cast includes West End and Broadway legend Rachel Tucker, renowned for her portrayal of Elphaba in Wicked. Tucker takes on the roles of Captain Beverley Bass, Anette and others.
Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Clive Carter, Mary Doherty, Robert Hands, Helen Hobson, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison, Emma Salvo, David Shannon, and Cat Simmons also join the bill. Mark Dugdale, Bob Harms, Kiara Jay, Kirsty Malpass, Tania Mathurin, Alexander McMorran, Brandon Lee Sears and Jennifer Tierney complete the West End cast.
Come From Away is a profound musical that really speaks volumes about the power of human kindness during uncertain or unfriendly times. It is particularly noteworthy that the London production is happening now, in a world that is so torn up by political turmoil, in the middle of Brexit.
Played out against a score that mixes traditional Irish folk music with stirring musical theatre ballads, orchestrations and prayer music, Come From Away hurtles through it’s 100 minutes with panache and emboldened warmth. The ensemble – for this really is an ensemble show – are on stage throughout, switching between roles as Ganderites and Comes From Aways in the blink of an eye.
We hear from travellers whose lives are rocked by the attacks at home, foreigners misplaced in a country that doesn’t speak their language, and homemakers, governmental officials and town leaders whose lives are flipped upside down by the arrival of 7,000 strangers.
There are love stories, friendships, and achingly powerful moments where characters struggle to find out what has happened to loved ones back home – though through it all, there is an unrivalled wit and humour to the piece, which just proves that even in the toughest of times, it helps to laugh.
The cast are astounding, shifting between high-octane crowd pleasers like show opener Welcome to the Rock, Heave Away and Screech In, to slower, more isolated moments of storytelling such as Somewhere in the Middle of the Nowhere, Something’s Missing and the 11 o’clock number Me and the Sky.
While the simple set (half of the band are also visible on stage, in the wings throughout) only goes to strengthen that the thing that really matters here are the stories at the heart of the show.
As star Jonathan Andrew Hume put it when we met with the cast in Dublin, “There’s a saying that we have in the show where we say this isn’t really 9/11 story, it’s a 9/12 story. It’s really about the days after the tragedy in New York and it’s ultimately about how this one town taught the world how to be human.”
★★★★★ “This miraculous masterpiece is totally, soul-feedingly wonderful” – Time Out
★★★★★ “Irresistible and inspiring. It takes all of ten seconds to be in this show’s generous embrace” – The Times
★★★★★ “It’s a musical that gets everything right” – The Times
★★★★★ “A beautifully crafted hymn to the power of community” Time Out
Come From Away is now playing at London’s Phoenix Theatre. The shows runs for 100 minutes with no interval.
Tickets for Come From Away are on sale now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.