It seems fitting that I write my latest post from a plane. This weekend while in NYC, I was super excited to watch the last preview of the Broadway Musical ‘Come From Away’. A story about humanity and the kindness of a small town in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, who on 9/11 hosted 38 jetliners making emergency landings on their way to the USA. The size of Gander doubled, and they took care of housing and feeding everyone who was there, animals included, for several days. Wow. I mean, I always love Broadway shows, but this one struck home in so many ways and left me feeling incredibly proud to be a Canadian from the east coast!
Several moments stood out in this show; without giving too much away, some of my favorites scenes were the typical newfie lifestyle and getting the town gossip at Tim Hortons, seeing several cultures come together in prayer for their loved ones and the world in a church, a female power ballad about breaking through gender stereotypes (the first female Captain for American Airlines was one of the pilots!), a good ol’ newfie screech-in and the sheer combination of so many different human emotions in dealing with the events of 9/11. The reference to moose, the Celtic party music, kindness to animals, and the power of a good drink made me miss my home in the Maritimes more than ever. And my roommate from first year at UNB (loves you Patey!) and all of my friends and family from Newfoundland!
In addition to the show being amazing, the way they showed the perspective of 9/11 through the Canadians and passengers eyes was special. I remember that day clearly as I was still in Fredericton at university. We watched the TV in our lounge at Mackenzie House, surrounded by friends and house mates, in complete disbelief and horror as the events of that day unfolded.
One of the reasons I’m writing today is because I wanted to capture many of the fun things happened as part of this experience, in addition to the show being awesome:
- Before the show, Pete and I were downstairs putting a pin where we were from on the map that they had provided in the lobby – Pete is from Nova Scotia, I’m from New Brunswick. We hear a friendly voice say ‘where abouts are you guys from exactly?’ in a familiar accent, and meet a lovely newf who’s come to the show, but she now lives in Fredericton with her family and actually knows where Harvey Station is (sort of a miracle when you randomly meet someone in NYC). We all hit it off and are chatting away, when a lovely woman from Georgia and her daughter come up to us and say they love the show (have seen it 3 times already) and it’s so cool to hear real Canadian accents. We all laugh, chat and finally head to our seats… If we weren’t leaving to drive to Maryland directly after the show, we would have grabbed a drink with our new friend from Fredericton afterwards… It’s just how we maritimers roll.
- It turns out a guy from Fredericton who I used to sing with in Music Festival is one of the alternates in the cast, so that was a fun discovery as I read through the Playbill! Tony LePage, you don’t really know me but I was proud to see your name in the program!!
- As I’m balling my eyes out at the end of the show (me=giant creme puff with all of the feels), after the audience has leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, I overhear some of the people behind us talking. They were actual passengers from the planes that landed in Gander, NFLD and some of the townspeople from Gander!!! Some of the people sitting behind us were the real versions of the characters just portrayed on stage. Mind. Blown. Including the Mayor of Appleton (super close to Gander), who was the mayor in 2001. He was chatting up a storm with everyone who was there. I thanked him for being such a wonderful ambassador for Canadians, told him I was from New Brunswick and he gave me a big hug saying ‘you’re from home!!’. He had tears in his eyes from the show and told me it was too bad our curling team wasn’t doing better this year. Lol… 😂 It was really special to see so many people moved. I later found out that opening night was the day after we saw the preview, so it made sense that so many of the ‘real’ people were there to be part of it!
- We spoke with a lot of the cast after the show and I got some of their autographs – such wonderful, humble people! We even got to meet some of the families of the actors, who I assume were there for opening night. So cool.
So, now ya know! I’m so grateful to have been able to witness this production and I’m so proud as a Canadian to see such a difficult topic portrayed in such a beautiful way. The show is now open and received rave reviews – get yer tickets now before it sweeps the Tonys!! 🙂
As it turns out, I have some friends who were travelling back from their honeymoon (in Italy, of all places!) on that day and were diverted to Canada. A beautiful place to visit, but not under such circumstances. By any chance were their characters like that in the show?
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Wow! There weren’t any honeymooners in the show unfortunately, but if you’re talking with them you might want to recommend they check the show out!! 🙂
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That would be me! This is amazing — who knew our experience would end up as a musical? Can’t wait to see it!
Actually, we landed in St. John’s…
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