and Lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
by Beowulf Boritt – Costumes designed by Toni-Leslie James
designed by Howell Binkley – Sound designed by Gareth Owen
staging by Kelly Devine – Musical Direction by Luke Hunter and Michael Tyack AM
Opening Night Performance on 10th June 2021 reviewed by Bill
been waiting a long time to welcome the Australian production of “Come From
Away” which premiered in Melbourne in 2019. Originally scheduled for Sydney in
2020, Covid got in the way, but when it finally did arrive, the entire Sydney
opening night audience rewarded the performance with a heartfelt, spontaneous
musical doco than your standard musical, “Come From Away” was inspired by true
events when on September 11th 2001, 38 aircraft, carrying nearly
7000 passengers from 92 countries, were diverted to Gander, a little-known town in Newfoundland.
population of Gander was itself less than 10,000 souls, it had previously been
an Airforce base and possessed one of the few airstrips in Canada capable of
handling the giant passenger aircraft.
after this event, composers Irene Sankoff and her husband, David Hein, visited
Gander, interviewed hundreds of the inhabitants about this event, and distilled
an amalgam of their stories, into a rousing musical performed by 12
delighted by this show in the Comedy Theatre during its Melbourne season in
2019, curiosity as how it would play in the much larger Capitol theatre in
Sydney, as well as survive several cast changes brought about by the Covid
delays, provided compelling reasons for being in the audience for the Sydney
report that the show looks equally compelling in the Capitol, the replacement
cast fit like a glove, and the whole show remains as tightly and as brilliantly
presented as ever.
Each of the
12 ensemble cast members play a central character as well as a variety of
smaller characters to represent both the residents of Gander and the dislocated
passengers. All are on stage for most of the show, switching characters with
only minimal changes of costume, often accomplished in full view of the audience, 12 chairs
smartly manoeuvred into various configurations, a few other small props and a
Christopher Ashley and chorographer, Kelly Devine have between them devised a
remarkable staging in which the cast are able to swap identities and locales
almost instantly to tell the compelling, often touching story of the chaotic
events which overtook both the residents of Gander and the unfortunate passengers
who did not want to be where they found themselves.
notable with this production is the lighting design which allows the face of
every character to be seen whenever they are speaking their lines. No small
feat since the introduction of intelligent lighting for musicals seems to have made
this possibility a remarkably hit-and-miss affair.
|Zoe Gertz as Beverly
have been several cast changes to the original Australian cast , Zoe Gertz remains rock solid as the female
pilot, Beverly whose main concern is her
passengers. Emma Powell reprises her role as the warm-hearted local, Beulah, and
Sharriese Hamilton continues as the distracted mother, Hannah
who is trying to locate her son who was working that day in the Trade Centre.
|Emma Powell and Sharriese Hamilton as Beulah and Hannah
garners his fair share of laughs as the ever-sceptical New Yorker, Bob while Kellie
Rode continues as the kind-hearted vet, and Bonnie, who rescues some rare and pregnant
chimpanzees. Sarah Morrison also
continues in her role as the fresh-faced reporter, Janice, as does Simon Maiden
who plays Oz.
night in Sydney Ash Roussety joined cast original Douglas Hansell as the couple,
both named Kevin, whose relationship doesn’t survive the turmoil. American
actor Gene Weygandt was impressive as the big-hearted mayor Claude, while
Angela Kennedy joined another newbie, Phillip Lowe, to play Diane and Nick, the
unlikely couple who eventually marry as a result of their experiences in
Gander. All succeeded in creating warm and believable characterisations which pay
tribute to the individuals on how their characters were based.
the wait , this warm-hearted, involving, funny and sad musical, with its toe-tapping
score played by seven superb on-stage musicians, offers a theatrical experience
guaranteed to thrill all but the most determinedly hard-hearted theatre goer.
“come from Away” is a must-see theatrical event.
Photos of the Melbourne Production of "Come from Away" by Jeff Busby.
This review also appears in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au