Come From Away
It has been a while since I was sat on the edge of my seat with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, completely captivated by what is going on in front of me. That is not meant as a reflection on the film ,theatre and TV I have seen recently, it's just that I'm a cynical sod who can't switch off the tedious part of his brain that likes to pick plot holes, notice small details and wonder about the behind the scenes mechanics of what I am watching.
I can honestly say I did none of that with Come From Away.
At the end of the show, the drummer - who is, I believe, the only member of the band not to have popped up on stage to perform - is brought on to take a bow and that was the first time I dropped back into my seat and breathed. I cannot overstate this: Come From Away is incredible.
The nominees for this year's Olivier's have just been announced and I think Come From Away has is topping the list alongside Company with nine nominations. And quite right too. The nominations are a perfect reflection of just why Come From Away is so good too. Alongside the nod for Outstanding Achievement in Music, the show has garnered three nominations across the two Supporting Role in a Musical categories and none in the Best Actor or Actress in a Musical categories.
That is because this show is an ensemble piece, pure and simple. Each member of the cast plays a handful of roles, seamlessly jumping from one to the other and keeping the story flowing perfectly.
Come From Away tells the tale of Gander, a small city in Newfoundland where 38 places were diverted in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The influx of thousands of scared and confused passengers and their interactions with the small community are the lifeblood of this piece. And it all feels so real. The stories, which are woven into a beautiful tapestry, are all taken from real experiences and told through some of the best songs and musical performances I have ever seen.
There is a moment where in the first song where all the individual characters introducing themselves explode to the front of the stage, the band ratchets it up a notch and you are sucked straight into their world. From then, you are not released for the next 100 minutes - there's no interval and you really would not want one - as you follow fear, anger, concern, heartbreak, love, joy and friendship each of which blossoms and sweeps through the show and the songs.
Oh and the songs. I have had the soundtrack on look since we saw it a few days ago and the first number still gives me chills. The pilot's reflections on the lengths a captain will go to in order to save their plane puts a lump in my throat and the unbridled joy of Screech In is almost hypnotic.
I can't do Come From Away justice in words. Get a ticket and experience it for yourself.
Shows of 2019:
1. Come From Away (Phoenix Theatre)
2. Waitress (The Adelphi)