My husband and I went to the Seattle Repertory Theater to see a new musical “Come From Away,” created by a Canadian married couple, David Hein and Irene Sankoff; and I am glad that we did so because the musical was very engaging and enjoyable in spite of being somewhat strange. Thanks to local TV news, I knew that this musical was about the people who were stranded in a small town in Newfoundland after their 38 planes were diverted to that Canadian location due to the most devastating event in the recent world history, 9/11. The story itself sounded rather unusual and intriguing. If I had not known about the subject matter of this musical, probably I would not have even thought about seeing a production titled “Come From Away.”
The show started with a group of people in Gander, exchanging small talks in a bar. Soon the town’s mayor appears and tells the people that they are expected to host 2,000 passengers who were diverted to this isolated town due to the United States national security emergency situation caused by the massive coordinated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, and the Pentagon. The mayor and the townspeople energetically sing the first song, “Welcome to Newfoundland.” (I may be mistaken, but the melodic line in this song reminded me of the “Pinball Wizard” song from The Who’s Tommy.) Thus, from the very beginning it is obvious that this musical is blessed with an excellent ensemble cast. This first song also establishes the pacing of the musical play as energetic and speedy. There are 14 musical numbers that tell several individual stories, such as a mother whose firefighter son gets missing in NY City and the first commercial female pilot, as well as collective stories of hospitality over the course of 100 minutes. (The musical was short, and performed without any intermission.) True, the impassioned energy became slightly lost for 5 minutes or so around three fourths into the musical play (which may suggest that the play could be further trimmed in order to maintain a rousing viewer experience); but, on the whole, this new musical was fantastic, and delighted most of the audience.