‘Come From Away’ A Dose of Humanity At A Time Most Needed, A Look Back At 9/11 & Forward To Today, LLD Theatre Review

By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media

If there is a feel good story to be found about the 9/11 tragedy of 21 years ago ‘Come From Away’ is definitely it. It reminds us of the compassion a community engaged in at a time of confusion, anger and tragedy. Much like the recent Covid pandemic times we have endured and our need for that same type of compassion so sorely needed in today’s uncertain environment.

The Tony Award winning play was last in Denver in 2018, just a year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world. It too was a major catastrophe that killed a million plus people in the U.S. alone.

Now that the pandemic seems to be receding it has left behind a world that seems to be meaner, angrier and less sympathetic to those around them. Come From Away is a true story that reminds us that we are all human beings that truly need one another and should care about one another no matter the obstacles.

The North American Tour of Come From Away Photo Credit Matthew Murphy

Judging by the audience reaction opening night, Oct. 4, 2022, it was a reminder that this message of compassion is much needed it these “new normal” times of uncertainty.

Most everyone was engulfed in the story, gasping, laughing and yes even crying. By the end of the night everyone was up cheering, applauding and dancing during the neartly 10 minute long standing ovation. It was like a dose of relief for two long years of stress, suffering and loneliness. It is just what any doctor would recommend as a remedy for all those ailments.

“What an amazing performance.” Come From Away. Elizabeth Munoz (center) and friends at opening night Oct. 4, 2022

Come From Away tells the story a plane load of people headed from Paris, France to Dallas, Texas when the plane was suddenly ordered to land in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Passengers were not allowed to get off that plane for more than 24 hours all the while not having a clue as to what had happened on that terrible day and why they could not get off the plane. Residents of that small town saw its population nearly double in a matter of a few hours.

‘Come From Away’ is the true story of what happened to the Canadian island town of Gander, Newfoundland when more than 38 planes carrying 7,000 passengers were diverted there during the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on that tragic day, September 11th, 2001.

Luis Canela (right) said The cast was awesome. So many positive messages. Very touching. On target changes that have resulted since 9/11. So many of us waiting for humanity to come back. Unforgettable night at the Buell Theatre.”

The musical is actually an uplifting and entertaining look on how the people of Gander reacted to this population explosion of people who were suddenly in need of food, clothing, shelter and compassion.

Beverly Bass was the captain of an American Boeing 777, one of the largest passenger planes in world. Bass was the first female captain at American Airlines when she was just 34 years old in 1984. On September 11, 2001 Flying from Paris to Dallas with 158 international travelers she found herself and them stranded on the tarmac for 19 hours after flying for 8 hours. There was simply nowhere for them to go, no one to care for them if they were let off that plane. Or so they thought.

The First North American Tour Cast of COME FROM AWAY, Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018

Cell phones and wifi were not prevalent in 2001 so no one knew what was really going on and why. Those who did have cell phone access only fueled rumors or World War III and Armageddon. Stuck on that plane, nerves rattled and with no access to their stored belongings stress levels and suspicions ran high. There were Muslim passengers on that plane which made tensions even worse.

With no access to luggage and fearing the worst they were suspicious of everything and everyone. So when the people of Gander welcomed them with food, shelter and even diapers, baby formula, inhalers, insulin needles and just about anything else they might need the passengers were taken back not knowing what to think. They just wanted to call their loved ones back home to let them know they were okay and to see how they were doing. They all wondered about how much longer would they be stuck in the middle of nowhere and how would they cope. And what about their pets and the dozens of other animals that were stuck in cargo holds on all those planes, what would become of them? It would be five long days and nights before they were able to board planes to their final destinations but what they left behind in the towns suggestion box astounded every citizen of Gander.

What made those stranded passengers return to that small town 10 years later for a reunion along with thousands of others who were once unwilling captives of a situation they had no control over?

The North American Tour of Come From Away Photo Credit Matthew Murphy

Yes, Come from Away is an entertaining, heart beating and dare I say, fun look back on what otherwise would be a depressing reminder of an occurrence that changed the way we live forever. It reminds of us that we can and should be kind and supportive of one another no matter our backgrounds. The people of Gander proved it is possible. We just need to follow their example and believe in one another as human beings and citizens of the world.

Come From Away new musical written by Tony nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein and helmed by this year’s Tony-winning Best Director Christopher Ashley, plays the Buell Theatre for four days only. Now thru October 9th only.

For tickets click HERE