Last night I was delighted to be invited to join in at the re-opening night of Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre.
Based on the true story of how the inhabitants of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, coped with the diversion of numerous planes from American airspace on 9/11, this musical is full of hope and joy, and the atmosphere was electric right from the off.
That famous opening line ‘Welcome to the rock if you’re come from away’ was drowned out by screams and cheers, and the number itself briefly stopped the show with a standing ovation.
This is a special show, full of heart and bringing real people into the limelight, helping each other in a real sense of community. Not only that, it boasts a score which will make you want to tap your feet and then give you a lump in your throat.
Rising as one with an audience who loved every moment both in that early ovation and at that final moment where “there’s a candle in the window / and the kettle’s always on” is to experience the meaning of theatre and what we have missed.
In Come From Away, we stand in celebration with and for others. In a touching and rousing curtain call speech by producers John Brant and Joseph Smith, the spirits of those lost their lives during lockdown are reached; those who worked in key professions are acknowledged.
Ultimately, putting on a show is about a cast reaching an audience. Come From Away, written by Irene Sankoff and David Klein, directed by Christopher Ashley, elevates the kindness and humanity of both the inhabitants of Gander and those airplane passengers who were there “at the start of a moment” does just that.
Just twelve cast members play every part, moving between characters with ease. There is movement, dance, moments of quiet (Prayer), moments of exuberance (Screech In), moments of coming together (Somewhere In The Middle of Nowhere).
The cast – Jenna Boyd, James Doherty, Mary Doherty, Mark Dugdale, Alice Fearn, Kate Graham, Alasdair Harvey, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Gemma Knight Jones, Harry Morrison, Sam Oladeinde, and Emma Salvo – are all superb.
The band – Alan Berry, Matt Bashford, Oli Bryant, Ray Fean, Joey Grant, Aoife Ni Bhriain, Justin Quinn, Ian Whitehead and MD Huw Evans – bring every emotion to the fore in this vibrant score.
Come From Away is s special show for a special time. It has romance. It has loss. It has strength. It has tolerance. It even has a fish. It is now open again at the Phoenix – details and tickets here.
A solid *****.
LouReviews received complimentary tickets to return to the Rock.
Read my previous review of the show in early 2019.