After a successful Sydney season, and delay thanks to lockdown and restriction, opening night of Come from Away finally arrived to great fanfare for Brisbane theatre goers.
There’s a sense of excitement in the air at QPAC as we take in the grand view of masked punters that fill the Lyric Theatre. For us, it’s one of the first theatre events for the year and it’s great to finally enjoy live performances again in Brisbane after months of abandoned stages across the entertainment landscape. For the production, it’s national tour was forced to take a ten month hiatus with many of its international sites still shut down.
“The Australian production is incredibly fortunate to raise the curtain. We are able to do so because of the resilience of everyday Australians, who have a spirit of kindness and humanity that we have seen throughout the bushfires and the pandemic – it is the same spirit that COME FROM AWAY embodies,” said producer, Rodd Rigby.
The musical follows the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada during the September 11 tragedy. The small community that invited the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and humanity to those in need. Award-winning husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, listening to and compiling their stories to share them with the world.
The score has an Irish flare to it which creates a feelgood charm to the production despite it’s backdrop set in one of world history’s most darkest times. As the world stops, we’re taken through a kaleidescope of emotion as this large group of stranded people are left in limbo as information from the day’s events slowly trickles out. Many stories from this community report townspeople opening their doors, handing over the keys to their vehicles and embracing them with hospitality which continued for days after the planes hit the world tower. Relationships formed, relationships broke, sadness, grief, uncertainty, shock provide a sense of realism to the events that changed the world forever, cleverly couched in tactful comedy.
It’s a character-driven show that works a simple set. What’s interesting about the casting of this production, is the dissimilarity in the looks of character from production to production across each city that it plays., The actors have been cast based on the vibe they create. You’ll understand what we mean when you see it, but as the cast play multiple characters as crew and as towns people, there’s a level of finesse that is needed to maintain the believeability in the sequences and dialogue that often were spoken words from people of the time of the 9/11 tragedy.
It was always a universally relateable story, but now as the world enters new challenges and still suffering through the worst of the pandemic, this story of resilience and hope reminds mankind of a dimension to its humanity it may have forgotten as many communities and cities become insular.
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