Dear 'Come From Away', I Owe You an Apology

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Last year, when word came that the musical Come From Away would be transferring to Broadway, I had my reservations and doubts. I hadn't seen its premiere in CA, nor the runs in Seattle, Washington D.C. or Toronto. All I knew about Come From Away was that it was a musical that takes place somewhere on 9/11 that wasn't New York City. 

For me and many others in the area, 9/11 is something very personal for us. It wasn't a devastating attack that happened overseas or in a distant land, it was right down the street. As a sophomore in college at the time, I remember where I was the exact moment the planes hit the towers. I had many friends and colleagues that were impacted by the attacks. My boss lost his brother-in-law. My friend's father, a fireman, was missing but luckily found safe later in the day. As years went by, I would meet more and more people who lost loved ones and colleagues in the attacks as well. 

So back to last year. I hear a musical about people in a distant land singing, dancing and falling in love while smoke is still rising in New York, is about to open just miles from Ground Zero. 

To be frank, I was insulted and shocked. 

I expressed my anger on social media. Some of the responses were in agreement and others were trying to dissuade my anger. 

But one constant comment would fill my comment section, 

"Once you see it, you'll understand."

Needless to say I scoffed at this, saying, "I'll see it, if it even stays open in New York long enough."

So fast forward to today. Let me just say, Come From Away, I'm sorry. 

If you haven't had a chance to see this musical yet, please do. It's a wonderfully, positive, emotional and stirring piece of musical theatre, that is rare in its composition as it is in its impact. 

The composer/lyricist team of Irene Sankoff and David Hein have crafted a beautiful piece that pays tribute and never exploits. It showcases a wonderful instance of hope and solidarity on the darkest of days.

I laughed, I cheered, I cried and I felt ashamed. 

Ashamed because in my initial anger, I had forgotten all the positive that occurred in the hours and days following September 11th. I forgot how New Yorkers spent hours in line just to donate blood, formed a cheering section for first responders and gave their homes, funds and time to those in need. I forgot how the rest of the world lent their support as well. 

Come From Away is a gentle reminder of that. 

For me, the most impactful moment is Jenn Colella's performance of "Me and the Sky", where a pilot sings about her love of flying a plane and the heartbreaking realization its been used as a weapon. That number has been on my mind ever since. 

Maybe it's the timing of 2017 and all the divisiveness we've seen, but there is something particularly heartfelt about this season of theatre. If Dear Evan Hansen is the inspiration you need to keep going, Come From Away is the hug you need to get up.

Oh and if there was any doubt whether or not this show would be successful?  Its well deserved 7 Tony Awards nominations should put that question to rest. 

So again, I'm sorry Come From Away and thank you.