In the immediate wake of September 11th, 2001, 7000 passengers are stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, cultures clashed, and tensions built with the locals, then the unthinkable happened… The uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.
“It takes you to a place you never want to leave!”
“A hit and a masterpiece! Joyous, uplifting and plenty of hummer”
“A totally soul-feeling wonderful musical”
“Beautifully gives people reason to come to the theatre again”
Come From Away is the true story of 38 airplanes that were flying on September 11th, 2001. The United States Federal Aviation Authority makes the decision to shut down its airspace, forcing over 4 000 flights to land at the nearest airport. Inbound flights from Europe are diverted to Canada. Gander international airport is told 18 planes will be landing at the airport and passengers are not to leave the planes. 15 minutes later an additional 13 planes land at Gander International Airport, and by the end of the day a total of 38 planes carrying 6 579 passengers and crew land that afternoon, with no possibility of continuing their flights. Eventually the decision is made to disembark in the small town of Gander, which at the time only has a population of 10 000 people, it was going to be an extraordinary challenge for the town to take on. As the people of Newfoundland graciously welcome the “come from aways” into their community in the aftermath, the passengers and locals alike “process what’s happened while finding love, laughter, and new hope in the unlikely and lasting bonds that they forge.”
Come from Away is a Canadian musical with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. The characters in the musical are based on, and in most cases share the names of real Gander residents as well as some of the 7,000 stranded travelers.
The musical premiered at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, in 2013, before moving to the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California, and the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2015. It opened on Broadway at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in March 2017, and became a critical and box office success, winning four Helen Hayes Awards, the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, three Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical, and five Outer Critics Circle Awards. In October 2018 it became the longest-running Canadian musical in Broadway history, and finally moving to the Phoenix Theatre in London’s’ West End in February 2019 where it took home four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical.
It was announced in 2017 that a film adaptation would be made with Sankoff and Hein writing the screenplay and Christopher Ashley as director, and in 2019 filming was supposed to commence in Gander with residents as extras. Ultimately the adaptation was shelved due to COVID-19, and instead a live recording of the stage production with the members of the Broadway cast reprising their roles, was released on September 10th, 2021.
“This New York Times Critics’ Pick takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them.”
“Imagine a musical, based on a true story, that celebrates kindness and charity toward distressed foreigners. At a moment in history when certain politicians are telling us to fear and reject immigrants, we’re shown ordinary people who act spontaneously out of a concern for others. Come from Away, doesn’t have an ironic or cynical bone in its body. It’s a celebration of the best human instincts, and, particularly coming at this time, doesn’t seem at all hokey. It’s cheering and refreshing.”
– Robert Feldberg, The Record.