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20 years after 9/11, the story of “Come From Away” brings gentle in one other darkish time: “The message is so wanted”


It is some of the uplifting tales from one of many darkest days in American historical past. Amid the fear and chaos of September 11, 2001, a small neighborhood opened its properties and hearts to 1000’s of stranded airline passengers. The story of what occurred in Newfoundland 20 years in the past impressed a heartfelt Broadway hit, “Come From Away” — and now that very same musical helps the theater neighborhood emerge from one other darkish time: the coronavirus shutdown.

On 9/11, residents of Gander, Newfoundland, a Canadian island neighborhood off the North Atlantic coast, took in 7,000 stranded airplane passengers — together with 11 canines, 9 cats, and two Bonobo chimpanzees — after their flights had been diverted. Thirty-eight planes landed on the tiny Gander Worldwide Airport, which had as soon as been a significant hub for refueling stops. The neighborhood of 9,000 discovered itself practically doubling in measurement as residents welcomed strangers into their properties for 5 days earlier than flights had been deemed secure to take off once more. 

“Come From Away” opened on Broadway in 2017 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, successful for finest director. However on March 12, 2020, the present was shut down — like all different dwell leisure — as a result of pandemic. Everybody on stage and off discovered themselves out of labor

Greater than a 12 months later, in April 2021, nearly all the Broadway firm reunited to movie the present in entrance of the primary dwell indoor viewers for the reason that pandemic started. It streams on Apple TV+ starting September 10, in the future earlier than the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults. 

“I am desirous about how highly effective it should be when this movie will get launched — the day earlier than the twentieth anniversary. And simply the entire emotions that that day at all times conjures for all of us, which might be that rather more heightened by this present and by being part of the present,” mentioned Emily Walton, who performs Janice Mosher, a TV reporter who adopted the occasions unfolding in Gander. 

It was a giant shock to Jenn Colella when the producers requested her to reprise her function as Captain Beverley Bass, the primary feminine captain at American Airways, who landed a Boeing 777 at Gander that day. “I burst into tears instantly and thru my sobs choked out a, ‘Sure, completely. It could be my honor,'” Colella, who had left the present in November 2019, recalled to CBS Information. 

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Jenn Colella, as Captain Beverley Bass, with Emily Walton, Q. Smith and Joel Hatch in “Come From Away,” premiering September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+


“I believe all of us had been delighted to have the ability to revisit this present throughout this time as a result of the message is so wanted,” mentioned Petrina Bromley, who performs Bonnie Harris, the supervisor of the animal shelter in Gander. Whereas the planes had been grounded, Harris helped handle the animals who’d been on board. “It is such an exquisite story of generosity, kindness, neighborhood and of individuals coming collectively.”

But it is “uncommon” that individuals carry up the story of taking within the “airplane folks,” because the Newfoundlanders known as them, mentioned Irene Sankoff, who co-wrote the musical with husband Davin Hein. “Until folks know concerning the present, it is not one thing folks have a tendency to speak about. I believe as a result of the main target is a lot, and justifiably so, on those that had been misplaced within the ache of the day.”

Sankoff and Hein travelled to Newfoundland to interview the locals and returning passengers on the tenth anniversary of September 11, and “Come From Away” is predicated on these real-life experiences. The creators initially imagined Canadian excessive faculties “can be pressured to placed on the present” due to its historic content material, but it surely grew to become a global success. 

“To have it go to 100 nations around the globe, it feels past our wildest desires,” Hein mentioned. “It feels vital to inform the story proper now and we’re simply thrilled to share it with the world.”

Come From Away Musical
“Come From Away” co-writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein on the tarmac of Gander Worldwide Airport, in Newfoundland, Oct. 30, 2016.

Chris So/Toronto Star by way of Getty Photographs


Now the movie model will carry it to a fair bigger viewers. There had at all times been discussions about preserving the present on movie, and a few months into the shutdown the producers and artistic group, together with Tony-winning director Christopher Ashley, began to say: “Is that this the second?” 

Ashley discovered inspiration in how the filmed model of “Hamilton” captured the essence of the stage manufacturing. Whereas filming “Come From Away,” he integrated close-ups of the actors and put the digital camera in locations the theater viewers by no means sits or sees. 

 “If now we have a fraction of the success of the ‘Hamilton’ movie, I am going to really feel very lucky,” he mentioned.

“Come From Away” is definitely the second musical Ashley and choreographer Kelly Devine filmed through the pandemic. In addition they shot “Diana: The Musical” with out an viewers within the fall of 2020 on the Longacre Theatre with the identical digital camera crew. “Diana,” concerning the Princess of Wales, premieres on Netflix on October 1 earlier than resuming dwell Broadway performances November 1.

“I used to be so grateful,” Devine mentioned of getting each alternatives. “I did not even actually need to discuss it, to be sincere, as a result of there have been so many individuals that weren’t working, and so I had a little bit of guilt too.”

So as to movie through the pandemic, everybody concerned on the manufacturing needed to endure rigorous security precautions together with residing in a “social bubble” at a Manhattan lodge. It was a giant shift for a lot of, together with Colella, after lengthy months at dwelling. “However I used to be shifting from one household to a different,” she mentioned of reuniting together with her “Come From Away” colleagues. 

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De’Lon Grant, Tony LePage, Sharon Wheatley, Joel Hatch, Jim Walton and Emily Walton in “Come From Away,” premiering September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+


The primary day of rehearsals was like “an oasis in a desert, actually. It was completely unbelievable. We walked within the door and it was simply instantaneous tears,” recalled Tony LePage, who performs airplane passenger Kevin Tuerff. Tuerff since has launched Pay It Ahead 9/11, an annual initiative to commemorate those that died by encouraging others to hold out acts of kindness. 

Two different passengers featured within the musical, Nick Marson and Diane Gray, fell in love and later honeymooned in Gander. They’ve now seen “Come From Away” 109 occasions in 4 nations and on three continents, in response to Houstonia journal. 

Many within the solid have gotten to fulfill the real-life folks they play over time. De’Lon Grant, who performs Bob, a stranded New Yorker, had the chance to journey to Gander. “They took me to the entire locations. I had all of the meals that we talked about [in the show],” he instructed CBS Information. “It was such a uncommon and funky expertise.” 

On filming day in April, the solid was cheered on by a particular viewers filled with 9/11 survivors and frontline employees. 

“It felt just like the viewers was giving us a hug saying, ‘Welcome again,'” mentioned LePage.

“I used to be very emotional,” mentioned Devine. “There was a deep disappointment main up into this second. It felt like everyone’s hearts simply cracked open. It was a special type of particular from once we opened on Broadway.” 

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Caesar Samayoa, Sharon Wheatley, Q. Smith and Tony LePage in “Come From Away,” premiering September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Apple TV+


“This entire 12 months has felt like we’re gearing as much as this massive anniversary,” mentioned Walton. She’s one the solid members on the point of start rehearsals to arrange for “Come From Away’s” Broadway reopening on September 21 on the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. 

Earlier than the present returns to Broadway, a free dwell live performance model is being carried out on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on September 10 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.

“It does not repair what occurred that day, but it surely actually does offer you one other story to connect to that day,” famous Ashley — a narrative of generosity, kindness and human connection.

And bringing it again to life when New York Metropolis was at a standstill marked one other vital second.

“This simply felt like a brand new day, a brand new dawning of one thing,” Devine mentioned. “It was great and wild.”





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