Some Thoughts on 'Come From Away'

Jennifer Butler

I have always been someone who doesn’t only listen to the cast album, but learns everything I can about the show. I watch cast interviews and behind the scene videos on YouTube and if the show is based on a book or a movie, of course, I read/watch that too.

However once in a while a show will come along that captures my attention, unlike anything I have seen before. I get to the point where all I want to do is listen to that soundtrack instead of facing reality. Now, these shows aren’t necessarily the most technical of shows but more so are the shows that have stories which capture my interest. Past examples of these types of shows include “Newsies”, “Tuck Everlasting”, and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”, and of course “Hamilton.” However, the latest one that I am adding to that list is the current Broadway season’s “Come From Away.”

A month and a half ago I hardly knew anything about “Come From Away” and now it is all that I want to listen to. I have been trying to figure out over the past couple of weeks why I made that jump from barely knowing the show to loving it, over such a short amount of time. It wasn’t a gradual change either, I became obsessed with the show overnight.

And what I quickly realized is that I am not just attracted to the music, but the story that it tells. It is based on an actual event and involves real people. It is about people who showed kindness and support when things were chaotic elsewhere. It hits the heart of the writer in me and really supports my statement that everyone has a story to tell, you just have to go out and seek it.

“Come From Away” is an unlikely story for a musical but when you have the right actors and the right people to tell the story, it works. The simplicity of the set and the fact that each actor plays several different roles is key in telling this story. The writers of “Come From Away”, David Hein and Irene Sankoff, not only tell a story about an event but they somehow manage to turn 16,000 stories about the events that occurred in Gander, Newfoundland against the backdrop of the events of 9/11, and do it all in 100 minutes. I think when it comes to “Come From Away” the authenticity of how the story is told and the approval of the people that it is about is just as important as the story that’s being told. I mean, how often as an actor do you get to do a show where the person you are portraying is sitting in the audience?

Although, I have yet to see “Come From Away” in person on Broadway. (I am from Boston and right now it’s financially tough for me to get to New York) I still have been moved by the story, the kindness of the people from Gander, and what a positive experience came from such a tragic day. I may only get to listen to the soundtrack on a regular basis, but let me tell you, as soon as I can get to New York, “Come From Away” is the first on my list to see.