The very emotional musical, Come from Away, is coming on tour to Keller Auditorium! A Canadian musical, with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. It is based on the events in the Newfoundland town of Gander during the week following the September 11 attacks in 2001, when 38 planes, carrying short of 7,000 passengers, were ordered to land unexpectedly at Gander International Airport. The passengers and crews lived, for 5 days, with the people in Gander, the majority forming life-long friendships. This musical un-apologetically takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from the extreme lows of why the musical is performed to the uplifting and joyous heights of love and friendship of humankind.
2017 Tony Award Winner for Best New Musical
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks result in US airspace being closed, forcing 38 international aircraft to be diverted and land unexpectedly at the Gander airport. Thus, doubling the population of the small Newfoundland town, which is ill-equipped for the influx of stranded travelers. The pilots, flight attendants and passengers are initially not permitted to leave the planes. After 28 hours, the passengers and crews are allowed off the planes and transferred to various emergency shelters, where they learn the true reason why they were grounded. The frightened and lonely passengers, desperately try to contact their families and pray for their loved ones, while the townsfolk work through the night to help them, in any and every way they can. The “islanders” in Gander and the surrounding towns open their homes to the “plane people”, regardless of their guests’ race, nationality, or sexual orientation. At one point, the passengers are invited to be initiated as honorary Newfoundlanders at the local bar.
“Emotionally transcendent and the best musical I’ve seen all year and possibly ever.” – Broadway World
“One of the most refreshing pieces of art that I have seen in years.” – DC Metro Theatre Arts
After five days, as the passengers and crew fly away to their homes, they joyously exchange stories of the immense kindness and generosity shown to them by the Newfoundland residents, in their time of need. The townsfolk in Gander return to normal life, commenting on how empty their town now seems, and how different the world now feels. Ten years later, the crew and passengers, of the once stranded planes, reunite in Gander, this time by choice, to celebrate the lifelong friendships and strong connections they formed despite the terrorist attacks. “Tonight, we honor what was lost, but we also commemorate what we found.”
The show was conceived by Michael Rubinoff, a Toronto lawyer, theatre producer, and approached talented writing teams about the project. Rubinoff attracted Irene Sankoff and David Hein. In 2011, Sankoff and Hein visited Gander on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks to interview locals and returning passengers. After being workshopped in 2012 and first produced at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, in 2013, it went on to have record-breaking runs and became a critical and box office successes wherever it was performed. Routinely playing to standing-room-only audiences, in October 2018 it became the longest-running Canadian musical in Broadway history and has since joined the list of Broadway shows with 1,000 or more performances. At the 71st Tony Awards in 2017, the musical was nominated for seven awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Winning for Best Direction of a Musical. When all was complete and ready for release, their first port of call and first live performance was staged in Gander, Newfoundland.
In November 2017, it was announced that The Mark Gordon Company would produce a feature film, an adaptation of the musical, with Sankoff and Hein would be writing the screenplay and Christopher Ashley as director. In April 2019, Sankoff and Hein stated that the intention was to shoot in Gander and cast lesser-known actors, with Gander residents as extras.