Sunday, October 07, 2018

Review - Come From Away

Hubby-Eric and I went to see Come From Away at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima last night. It was our first real date night in a long time, so we had a blast, going to dinner first and wandering around a little downtown before the show.

The show itself is only 100 minutes long, but it's PACKED with music, movement, and story. For those who haven't already heard about this musical, it tells the story of the town of Gander in Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. When the United States shut down its airspace completely, all the inbound international flights were diverted to other airports. Because Gander had a huge airport once used for refueling when planes couldn't fly the distances they do now, many flights were sent there. The stranded passengers and the locals had to handle a completely unexpected situation.

The musical relies on the humor inherent in any crazy situation to its advantage, turning what could have been a painful stab at an old wound into a soothing, sometimes sad but more often uplifting, narrative. Although the town itself had more than 9,000 people and there were 38 airliners with 6,579 people (and some animals) on board, the musical manages to tell the story with a cast of only 12 people, who all play multiple parts.

For me, and possibly many others, the best plot thread in the play revolves around Nick and Diane, who happened to be on the same flight from London to Dallas. They don't meet until the plane is on the ground in Gander and the passengers and crew are going stir-crazy because they are cooped up with almost no knowledge of what happened to divert the flight (remember, cell phones were not as common in 2001). I was particularly enthralled by the performance of Chamblee Ferguson as Nick, who almost seemed to be channeling Peter Capaldi when he went into Nick's character, and managed to change so completely when he was other characters that I literally did not recognize him at times.

This is not to say the entire cast wasn't excellent - they were. I don't really have the energy to write out how awesome each of them were in the parts they played, but every one of the 12 actors had a moment to shine and they all did so.

The action was non-stop. From the incredible opening number in which we are introduced properly to the town of Gander and that entire area of Newfoundland until the final curtain call, the actors never stopped moving, singing, dancing, acting... it was a high-energy performance that was exhausting to watch about five days of pure exhaustion.

The plot threads were powerful at times. The story of an Egyptian Muslim man who is immediately mistreated was painful to watch. The plucky SPCA employee who thought to find out about the animals the 38 planes were carrying made me hold my breath, thinking of the horror of traveling with a pet and to have this awful event happen. The school employees who went from a normal day of classes to getting ready to house 700 people made me laugh more than any of the others, I think. The portrayal of the local mayors was enough to get a laugh out of everyone, even though it was remarkably silly. The story of a black man from New York or the gay couple, all of whom fear the worst conservative reactions and are pleasantly surprised, hit home.

The opening number "Welcome to the Rock" made me immediately want the album (which we got). Each musical piece rolls into the next, as the planes land, the residents prepare and the people on the planes start to go crazy from being stuck on planes in an unknown place for unknown reasons. Then it gets better as the people leave the planes and people do what people do.

Despite being only 100 minutes long, there are moments when it seems like the people had been together for weeks. It was actually a bit of shock when the planes start to leave Newfoundland. And the finale is somehow as powerful as the opening number.

There are so many stories in this play that it's hard to take it all in. By the end of the play I was crying and laughing and overcome by memories and emotion.

I can highly recommend this to anyone - the tour literally started in Yakima - so there will be plenty of opportunities.


Eric said...

If you're interested in seeing the show on tour, here's the schedule: