|The cast of "Come From Away".
Presented by Junkyard Dog
Productions, Rodney Rigby, New Theatricals.
Directed by Christopher
Ashley – Musical Staging by Kelly Devine
Musical Direction by
Michael Tyack AM.
Scenic Design by Beowulf
Boritt – Costume Design by Toni-Leslie James
Lighting Design by Howell
Binkley – Sound Design by Gareth Owen
Canberra Theatre until 9th
Opening night performance
on 9th June reviewed by Bill Stephens.
Canberra has waited a long time for this show. After two previous postponements, it has finally arrived. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely!
finishes this season in the Canberra Theatre on July 9th, this
remarkable production will have been touring Australian cities, on and off, for
exactly 4 years.
have broken records. The Melbourne production became the Comedy Theatre’s most
successful musical in its history. The ‘Offs” were interruptions to the touring schedule caused by
the Covid epidemic. This season in
Canberra will be the last stop in a long tour.
So does the show look a
bit tired? Not a bit! The energy level of the cast at this opening performance was
off the Richter scale.
“Come From Away” is a
unique musical in that it tells the story of a real-life event of which most of
us were unaware until this show. People depicted in the production still live
in Gander, a relatively small community in Newfoundland, which on September 9th,
2001, found it playing host to 7000 stranded airline passengers from all over
The brilliance of this show,
and a reason why it has been so successful, is the remarkable way the writers,
husband and wife team, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, have encapsulated hundreds
of individual stories into one engrossing show in which the actors portray both
the passengers and the townsfolk of Gander.
Their writing is supported
by brilliant direction by Christopher Ashley and Kelly Devine who’ve devised a
deceptively simple staging which allows an ensemble cast of outstanding actors who
have had to master the unique dialect of the Newfoundlanders, as well as the
accents of stranded passengers from around the world, to portray a multitude of
characters in a way that the audience can empathise with each and every
|Jaseph Naim - Natalie O'Donell - Sarah Naime - Kaya Byrne in "Come From Away".
Some of this cast
including Zoe Gertz who plays Beverly
the airline pilot trainer, Emma Powell who plays the earth mother, Beulah, and
Douglas Hansell who plays one of the Kevins (there are two characters called
Kevin), have been with the show since it’s very opening night in Melbourne.
Their performances are still as committed and affecting as ever.
While the singing of the cast throughout is excellent, Gertz has the vocal highlight
with a stunning rendition of “Me and the Sky”, a story song which traces the career
of her airflight trainer character, Beverly.
Emma Powell captures the
laughs with her ebullient portrayal of the kind-hearted earthmother, Beulah,
who forms an affecting relationship with the distressed Hannah, superbly
portrayed by Sarah Nairne, who’s anxious for news from New York of her
Natalie O’Donnell and
Phillip Lowe delight with their portrayal of the mismatched couple, Dianne and
Nick, Manon Gunderson-Briggs charms as the frayed young radio announcer,
Janice, charged with broadcasting Gander’s predicament to the world, while Kyle
Brown is a stand-out in several roles but particularly as the young Muslim
treated with suspicion by the other passengers.
Those though are just a
selection from the excellent performances by all the cast. You will find your
own favourites. It would be remiss
however not to mention the remarkable lighting, the excellent sound through-out,
and the superb band led by Michael Tyack, which joins in the ensemble scenes
and provides a surprise highlight at the end of the show.
This is a must-see show which provides a powerful reminder of how powerful acts of human kindness can be during moments of unbearable stress.
Sarah Naime - "Come From Away"
Images by Jeff Busby
This review published in CITY NEWS on 9th June 2023.