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“Stunning, thoughtful & brilliant” – Reviewing Come From Away at Hull New Theatre



I attended Hull New Theatre last night to see the acclaimed touring production of “Come From Away,” a musical that brings to life the extraordinary true story of a small Canadian town’s hospitality in the wake of 9/11.

Do you remember where you were when the news of 9/11 broke? I do. I was driving along Lairgate in Beverley on my way home from York. Where were you?

Whilst the world’s press concentrated on what was happening at Ground Zero, a small community in Gander, Newfoundland suddenly had an influx of 38 aeroplanes and 6,500 passengers and crew landing. We had a small taste of what those passengers and crew experienced last night with the opening of “Come From Away”.

From the opening song to the final curtain call, the show was a fast-moving tale of how the community in Gander found food, toiletries, bedding, and, importantly, telephones to care for their visitors. They were not expected to stay long, but as we know, that airspace stayed closed for several days, allowing the community and passengers to get to know one another.

This very talented cast played both Gander folk and passengers with just the change of coat, putting on a hat or carrying props. Yes, we knew it was the same cast member, but it was so seamless that each character dropped into place. From the Mayor, barkeeper, shopkeeper, to school staff, they skilfully weaved the storyline.

Passengers were introduced to us, confused as to what was happening. They had not been told about the Twin Towers until they were removed from the aircraft. They had spent hours wondering why they had been diverted. They had sung and drunk the planes dry, shared drink and food with one another. When they eventually found out what had happened, all were desperate to call their families to let them know they were safe. One was the mother of a New York firefighter. She left message after message.

Even the animals on the aeroplanes were not forgotten, as the SPCA lady snuck onto the airfield and into the hold of the planes in search of them. Cats, dogs, and even rare pregnant monkeys.

You would think that such a subject would be serious all evening. It was not. The cast had the audience laughing at innuendo, bad jokes, and embarrassing situations. The songs were sometimes melancholy, sometimes uplifting, but all beautifully written and performed. There was a poignant rendition of “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace,” sung by the entire cast in different harmonies, encompassing the various religions and cultures of the passengers.

This is a wonderful story of a community opening up to strangers, of shared experiences, of hope, sorrow, patience, and love. Of fear of someone or something you don’t know and of acceptance.

Cleverly written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, “Come From Away” draws you in from the start to the wonderful musicians playing a jig at the end. There was a well-deserved standing ovation from a packed and very appreciative audience.

Don’t miss this production at Hull New Theatre this week; it is well worth the ticket price from £20. It could not fail to touch the heart of everyone who was there.

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