The Emotional Roller Coaster of 9/11

Warning! Warning! Carry your “cry blanket” to the RBTL’s Auditorium Theatre as Come From Away runs from November 19 – the 9/11 acts of kindness portrayed in the musical are an emotional roller coaster, designed to melt the coldest of hearts.

The hit musical follows the selfless acts of Newfoundland residents as they welcomed and accommodated thousands of stranded passengers following the September 11, 2011 attacks. It’s a narrative of unflinching kindness and generosity that characterizes the idea of humanity.

While emotion-filled musicals are not new to Broadway, Come From Away stands out due to the level of real-life detail that went into its creation. Irene Sankoff, the musical’s writer confirms that “although some characters and storylines are amalgamated, everything we mention actually happened out there.” Along with David Hein and the creative team, Sankoff purposively avoided inventing parts of the narrative – instead opting to tell the truth of the actual experience.

After around 38 planes were forced to find an alternative landing airport following the terrifying events of 9/11, the Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada proved to be an ideal landing destination for around 7,000 passengers. But here’s where it gets interesting; the small Newfoundland town of approximately 9,000 residents sheltered, fed, and ensure all the stranded strangers felt at home – against all odds.

According to Marika Aubrey from the show’s cast, Come From Away is an inspiring musical because it tells the story of how “people who were not Americans open up, literally, their homes and their hearts to complete strangers, and feed them, and take them in, and give them the clothes off their own back, and make them feel safe and secure and wanted.” Unsurprisingly, the show has been a runaway success – performed in 3 continents by 5 different theatre companies, including US tour and the upcoming Shanghai engagement in 2020.

What’s mind-boggling about Come From Away is how the creative team manages to tell a truckload of stories in less than two hours. The technique used is a masterpiece in itself. A keen look at the proceeding of the musical shows that each of the 12 performers plays several roles. Over to the set, it’s fairly simple with chairs and tables as props that are rearranged by the cast depending on the scene.

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