Come From Away

The remarkable true story of the small town that welcomed the world.

Come From Away
Comedy Theatre

Theatre Address

240 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000

SYDNEY OPENS ITS HEART TO COME FROM AWAY

THE CRITICS ARE UNANIMOUS: THE EMOTIONCHARGED TRAIL BLAZING MUSICAL IS A TRIUMPH!

 “It’s a beautiful show that will make you smile… This heart-warming show will remind you that goodness exists, some times in the most unlikely and unexpected of places.”
Elizabeth Fortescue, Sunday Telegraph

“The cast work as a tight and powerful ensemble… the show reaches out to the audience with a volt of feel-good energy.”
Jo Litson, Limelight

“The capacity audience stood, stormed and cheered… The musical has been received by audiences and critics as a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate… COME FROM AWAY is sharp, funny and bloody entertaining. I can’t urge you strongly enough to see this production. It was an over whelming experience.”
Glenn A Baker

The eagerly-awaited Sydney premiere of global sensation COME FROM AWAY at the magnificent Capitol Theatre has garnered rapturous reviews from the critics and an outpouring of accolades and affection from audiences.

The Tony and Olivier Award-winning Broadway musical about unity and kindness in adversity is taking Sydney by storm, just as it did when it made its Australian premiere in Melbourne in July 2019.

Produced by Junkyard Dog Productions and Rodney Rigby, the Australian cast production continues to win the hearts and minds of critics and audiences as they laugh, cry and tap their feet to the original, inventive and exhilarating music. The production of COME FROM AWAY currently remains the only production being performed anywhere in the world due to the ongoing impact of COVID. The outstanding ensemble includes Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Phillip Lowe, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Joseph Naim, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick, Kellie Rode and Gene Weygandt, together with Angela Kennedy, Josh Marin, Kathleen Moore, Jensen Overend, Kilty Reidy, Ash Roussety, Alana Tranter and Jasmine Vaughns.

THE SYDNEY REVIEWS ARE IN: COMEF ROM AWAY IS A SMASH-HIT

“Inspired… What the music does do is brilliantly underscore the action, and it does this while drawing on Newfoundland’s proud Celtic heritage… It’s a show that not only makes one feel good, it rather inspires one to do good.”
John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald

“The toe-tapping score, featuring folk-rock with a Celtic twist, is played by an onstage band of seven and is completely infectious. Kelly Devine’s choreography, which is vibrant with plenty of joyous stamping, also goes straight to the heart … COME FROM AWAY is a refreshing, feel-good, uplifting piece about kindness and the power of community, and sends you home with your heart singing.”
Jo Litson, Limelight

“I would highly recommend this production if you are seeking great music, some hysterically funny moments and a touch of catharsis and healing regarding the events of 9/11. Love and compassion can arise in the most trying circumstances.”
Performing Arts Hub

“With irresistible music and a glorious cast, this production is unmissably joyful for young or old… Inviting, heartening and a musical trip to be treasured.”
Reviews by Judith (and Friends)

“Smart and sly costume design, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them changes in accents, and suave musical staging make for a dazzling visual feast that the cast exploits to tell the musical’s story brilliantly. It’s hard not to share the joy of their celebrations when the demographics come together, best seen in musical numbers Blankets and Bedding, Screech In, and Finale.”
IndianLink News

“The underlying message of kindness and compassion in the face of unspeakable horror is one that’s sorely needed right now… COME FROM AWAY is not just an Important Musical for Our Times, it’s also a whole lot of rollicking good fun.”
Time Out

“A captivating 100 minutes of music, smart lyrics and heartfelt characterisations … The heart-warming message of hope and kindness within COME FROM AWAY makes this a piece of theatre that all audiences should see. It has an accessibility in its recognisable music styles while containing clever new music and the story helps unite people in a collective desire to try to be better to others. DO NOT MISS THIS!”
Jade Kops, Broadway World

A global phenomenon, COME FROM AWAY opened on Broadway to wide acclaim in 2017 and continued its international triumph with sold-out, record breaking seasons in Toronto, London and a 60-city North American tour.

The story at the musical’s heart draws inspiration from the real-life events that came in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, which closed US airspace for the first time in history. It was then that 38 planes carrying almost 7,000 people from more than 100 countries were diverted to a tiny island, known to locals as “The Rock”. Now immortalised in this ground-breaking musical, the extraordinary experiences of the “come from aways”, and the unexpected outpouring of generosity and hospitality they received in Gander, Newfoundland, continues to inspire unity and hope among audiences throughout the world.

With book, music and lyrics by David Hein and Irene Sankoff, COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Kelly Devine (Rock of Ages, Diana), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Rock of Ages, Be More Chill) costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale).

COME FROM AWAY has won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Ashley) and four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer (Kelly Devine), Best Sound Design (Gareth Owen) and Outstanding Achievement in Music.

COME FROM AWAY is produced in Australia by Junkyard Dog Productions and Rodney Rigby.

Additional background information, images and videos available HERE

Tickets on sale now at: www.comefromaway.com.au
Venue: Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket.
Dates: From 3 June, 2021.
Times: Tuesday 7pm; Wednesday 1pm & 7pm; Thursday 7pm; Fridays 8pm; Saturday 2pm & 8pm; Sunday 2pm & 6pm.
Tickets: Tickets from $59.00* A handling fee from $9.20 per transaction applies

Groups: For 12 or more tickets email groups@ticketmaster.com.au

FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

Bruce Pollack | Pollack Consulting | +61 418 331 527 | bruce@pollackconsulting.com

Caitlin Eames | Publicity and Communications Associate, Newtheatricals | +61 433 746 644 | caitlin@newtheatricals.com

THE SHOW WILL GO ON – COME FROM AWAY BACK ONSTAGE AT QPAC FROM APRIL 6

That’s not a suggestion. It’s an order!” – The CourierMail

“Absolutely amazing!
You feel like you are part of something special” -97.3FM

“Definitely not to be missed. Simply sensational” Theatrepeople

Award-winning musical COME FROM AWAY will resume its highly anticipated five-week season at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre this Tuesday 6th April (until 9th May).

Producer, Rodney Rigby said, “The health, safety and well-being of our staff, artists, audiences and our community is always at the heart of our decision-making processes. As we move forward out of the short lockdown this continues to be paramount and we are thrilled to be back on stage from Tuesday.

“COME FROM AWAY, at its core, is a story of kindness and humanity andwe as a company feel so grateful to be able to share such a story in these times, particularly as we are the only one of five COME FROM AWAY companies worldwide to be back onstage.”

“You’ll be laughing, crying, tapping your feet, and singing all night long! A must-see musical” Scenestr

COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Diana, Memphis), choreographed by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine (Diana, Rock of Ages, Rocky), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Act One, Rock of Ages, Be More Chill), costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), and sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale).

The cast includes Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Phillip Lowe, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Joseph Naim, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick, Kellie Rode and Gene Weygandt, together with Angela Kennedy, Josh Marin, Kathleen Moore, Jensen Overend, Kilty Reidy, Ash Roussety, Alana Tranter, and Jasmine Vaughns.

Now, more than ever, COMEF ROM AWAY is the perfect show for our time; an opportunity to come together and celebrate an inspirational tale of hope and humanity. Don’t miss out – must close Sunday 9th May.

“A powerful work of musical theatre” – BroadwayWorld.com

Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Cnr Grey and Melbourne St, South Brisbane Dates: Tues 6th April to Sun 9th May

Bookings: qtix.com.au or 136 246

NOTE: Masks are mandatory in all QPAC venues until further notice and contact tracing is via the Check In Qld app. Patrons are encourage to download the app prior to their visit.

GLOBAL HIT MUSICAL COME FROM AWAY FAREWELLS MELBOURNE WITH FULL HOUSES AND A RECORD BREAKING BOX OFFICE

Melbourne’s love affair with world-wide smash hit musical COME FROM AWAY concludes on a triumphant note this week as the production breaks its own record that was set in January 2020 for the highest weekly box office in the Comedy Theatre’s 92 year history.

Surpassing the weekly box office records of all other productions staged at the theatre since it opened in 1928, it is playing to full houses for its final week of performances.

Producer Rodney Rigbysaid: “Melbourne will always hold a special place in the hearts of the ComeFrom Away family; as a city, it embraced our story of unity and compassion from the beginning, resulting in breaking box office and attendance figures for the Comedy Theatre along the way.

“We now look forward to sharing our inspiring production with audiences in Brisbane and Sydney.”

In a much-needed boon to the industry, the encore production created 447 jobs over its nine-week encore season, bringing many in the creative industry back to work for the first time since March 2020, and providing substantial stimulus to the economy and the East End of Melbourne.

After taking Melbourne by storm when it premiered in July 2019, COME FROM AWAY enjoyed nine months of critical acclaim and standing ovations, becoming the most successful production in the Comedy Theatre’s 91-year history, before it was forced to close early due to the threat of COVID-19.

The production returned on 19 January 2021 for a limited encore season, and will now tour to Brisbane from 26 March and Sydney from 3 June 2021.

COME FROM AWAY follows the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. The small community that welcomed the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and compassion to those in need. Award- winning husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, compiling their stories to share with the world.

 “ONE OF THE BIGGEST HITS ON BROADWAY!

An unforgettably moving story of the power of friendship and the human spirit” – CBS

In 2020, the musical added to its international award tally with five Green Room awards including Best Production and Best Ensemble. In 2019, along with being voted Ticketmaster’s ‘Ticket of the Year’ by Australian audiences, the musical won four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Achievement in Music, along with four Broadway World UK awards.

COME FROM AWAY is directed by  Tony  Award  winner Christopher  Ashley (Diana, Memphis), choreographed  by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine (Diana, Rock of Ages, Rocky), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (AChristmasStory,Diana), scenic design by BeowulfBoritt (ActOne,RockofAges,BeMoreChill),costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), and sound design by GarethOwen (Diana,ABronxTale).

The cast includes includes JosephNaim, PhillipLoew, ZoeGertz, SharrieseHamilton, DouglasHansell, Kolby Kindle, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Gene Weygandt, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick and Kellie Rode, together with Angela Kennedy, Kathleen Moore, Jensen Overend, Kilty Reidy, Ash Roussety, Alana Tranter, Josh Marin and JasmineVaughns.

INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED MUSICAL AUSTRALIAN CAST ANNOUNCE COME FROM AWAY REOPENS IN AUSTRALIA WITH ITS FIRST PERFORMANCE WORLDWIDE AHEAD AUDITION BRIEF OF BRISBANE AND SYDNEY SEASONS.

Award-winning musical COME FROM AWAY tonight has its first performance in Australia ten months since theatres were shut down due to COVID-19. The performance marks the long-awaited re-launch of its 2021 Australian Tour, which takes in Brisbane and Sydney after breaking all box office records at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne.

The Australian company is the first to re-take the stage worldwide, with Broadway, London, Toronto and COME FROM AWAY follows the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. The small community that welcomed the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and compassion to those in need. Award-winning husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, compiling their stories to share with the world.

Producer Rodney Rigby said that whilst the theatre industry around the world is facing its greatest crisis due to COVID-19, Australia is in an enviable position.

“The Australian production is incredibly fortunate to raise the curtain tonight. We are able to do so because of the resilience of everyday Australians, who have a spirit of kindness and humanity that we have seen throughout the bushfires and the pandemic – it is the same spirit that COME FROM AWAY embodies,” he said.

In 2019, along with being voted Ticketmaster’s ‘Ticket of the Year’ by Australian audiences, the musical won a Tony Award and four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Achievement in Music, along with four Broadway World UK awards. In 2020, the musical added to its international award tally with five Green Room awards including Best Production and Best Ensemble.

COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Diana, Memphis), choreographed by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine (Diana, Rock of Ages, Rocky), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Act One, Rock of Ages, Be More Chill), costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), and sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale).

The cast includes Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Phillip Lowe, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Joseph Naim, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick, Kellie Rode and Gene Weygandt, together with Angela Kennedy, Josh Marin, Kathleen Moore, Jensen Overend, Kilty Reidy, Ash Roussety, Alana Tranter, and Jasmine Vaughns.

Now, more than ever, COME FROM AWAY is the perfect show for our time; an opportunity to come together and celebrate an inspirational tale of hope and humanity.

GLOBAL HIT MUSICAL COME FROM AWAY LEADS THE REOPENING OF MELBOURNE’S EAST END, OPENING JANUARY

Leading the way in a triumphant return to the theatre in Melbourne, world-wide smash hit production COME FROM AWAY will be the first major production back on stage, commencing performances at the Comedy Theatre from Tuesday 19 January.

The Australian company will also be the first of the global productions of COME FROM AWAY to return to the stage, for a strictly limited season that must close on Sunday 21 March, prior to a national tour.

A much-needed boon to the industry, the production will create 447 jobs, bringing many in the creative industry back to work for the first time since March.

The nine-week encore season is expected to attract over 90,000 visitors to the Comedy Theatre and provide substantial stimulus to the economy and the East End of Melbourne.

Now, more than ever, COME FROM AWAY is the perfect show for our time; an opportunity to come together and celebrate an inspirational story of hope and humanity.

Producer Rodney Rigby said “As the world collectively faces one of the greatest challenges in modern times, COME FROM AWAY reminds us that compassion is at the core of our humanity. This is a story about unity, and about acting with kindness regardless of our differences.”

After taking Melbourne by storm when it premiered in July 2019, COME FROM AWAY enjoyed nine months of critical acclaim and standing ovations, becoming the most successful production in the Comedy Theatre’s 91-year history, before it was forced to close early due to the threat of COVID-19.

COME FROM AWAY follows the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. The small community that welcomed the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and compassion to those in need. Award-winning husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, compiling their stories to share with the world.

“ONE OF THE BIGGEST HITS ON BROADWAY!
An unforgettably moving story of the power of friendship and the human spirit” – CBS

In 2020, the musical added to its international award tally with five Green Room awards including Best Production and Best Ensemble. In 2019, along with being voted Ticketmaster’s ‘Ticket of the Year’ by Australian audiences, the musical won four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Achievement in Music, along with four Broadway World UK awards.

COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Diana, Memphis), choreographed by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine (Diana, Rock of Ages, Rocky), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Act One, Rock of Ages, Be More Chill), costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), and sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale). The cast includes includes Joseph Naim, Phillip Lowe, Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Gene Weygandt, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick and Kellie Rode, together with Angela Kennedy, Kathleen Moore, Jensen Overend, Kilty Reidy, Ash Roussety, Alana Tranter, Josh Marin and Jasmine Vaughns.

COME FROM AWAY opens at the Comedy Theatre on 19 January 2021 for a strictly limited season, closing 21 March 2021.

Tickets for performances from 16 February NOW ON SALE at comefromaway.com.au

NEW TICKETS for performances commencing 19 January on sale from 9am on Wednesday 16 December at comefromaway.com.au

GLOBAL HIT MUSICAL COME FROM AWAY ANNOUNCES BRISBANE SEASON

“ONE OF THE BIGGEST HITS ON BROADWAY!
An unforgettably moving story of the power of friendship and the human spirit” – CBS

Producers Rodney Rigby and Junkyard Dog Productions are thrilled to announce that the worldwide smash hit, Tony and Olivier award-winning musical COME FROM AWAY, will open at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre from 28 March 2021 for a strictly limited season. It will be the first major musical to open in Queensland since the COVID-enforced shutdown.

Set to inspire audiences, COME FROM AWAY follows the incredible real-life journey of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. The small community that welcomed the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and compassion to those in need. Award-winning husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff (book, music and lyrics), travelled to Newfoundland and interviewed thousands of locals, compiling their stories to share with the world.

The Australian Company took Melbourne by storm in 2019, becoming the most successful musical ever staged at The Comedy Theatre and breaking all box office records. It marks the fifth production of the musical worldwide, joining international productions on Broadway, in Toronto, the West End and the US National Tour.

Producer Rodney Rigby said “As the world collectively faces one of the greatest challenges in modern times, COME FROM AWAY reminds us that compassion is at the core of our humanity. This is a story about unity, and about acting with kindness regardless of our differences.”

In 2020, the musical added to its international award tally with five Green Room awards including Best Production and Best Ensemble. In 2019, along with being voted Ticketmaster’s ‘Ticket of the Year’ by Australian audiences, the musical won four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Achievement in Music, along with four Broadway World UK awards.

COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley (Diana, Memphis), choreographed by Olivier Award Winner Kelly Devine (Diana, Rock of Ages, Rocky), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Act One, Rock of Ages, Be More Chill), costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), and sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale).

The production will open in Brisbane in QPAC’s Lyric Theatre with performances commencing 28 March for a strictly limited season.

Tickets on sale now at comefromaway.com.au

HIT MUSICAL COME FROM AWAY WINS FIVE 2020 GREEN ROOM AWARDS INCLUDING BEST PRODUCTION

COME FROM AWAY continues to attract accolades around the world, after a dominant performance at the 2020 Green Room Awards in Melbourne tonight, collecting five awards.

Come from Away was awarded Best Production as well as Best Ensemble, with Christopher Ashley winning for Best Direction. Gareth Owen was awarded Best Sound Design and Luke Hunter was the recipient of Best Body of Work in Musical Direction (for Come From Away and Jersey Boys).

Producer, Rodney Rigby said “On behalf of the entire team at Come From Away we are truly honoured to receive this recognition from our peers within the Victorian live performance industry. Our story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things has never resonated more strongly than now as we witness the truly heroic work of doctors, health workers and first responders throughout the world at this moment in history. We cannot wait to share our story again, eight times a week”

The Australian production, which continued to attract spontaneous standing ovations from the entire audience throughout the Melbourne Season, recently announced a Sydney season which will open in August 2020 at the State Theatre, and an Encore Season back in Melbourne in February 2021.

COME FROM AWAY has won numerous international awards including the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Ashley); five Outer Critics Circle Awards (New York) including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; three Drama Desk Awards (New York) including Outstanding Musical, four Helen Hayes Awards (Washington, D.C) including Outstanding Production of a Musical, four Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including Excellence in production of a Musical and six San Diego Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Musical.

In addition, it received four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Achievement in Music, and recently won Broadway World UK awards. In Australia, it won the Ticketmaster ‘Ticket of the Year’ award for 2019, and recently took out the Drama Victoria award for Best Performance by a Theatre Company.

Currently there are five productions of COME FROM AWAY playing simultaneously around the world. The first production opened on Broadway to rave reviews in 2017 and has continued its record-breaking triumph with a second production in Toronto approaching its third year, a third production touring North America, now in its second year, and a West End production that opened in February earlier this year. The Australian production marks the fifth company.

The ground-breaking new musical is based on the incredible real-life events in the wake of the September 11 tragedy when 38 planes carrying nearly 7,000 people from over 100 countries were redirected to Gander, Newfoundland, almost doubling the population of the remote Canadian town.

Capturing the generosity and hospitality of the small community of Gander who invited the “come from aways” into their homes, it is an inspirational story of hope and humanity.

With book, music and lyrics by David Hein and Irene Sankoff, COME FROM AWAY is directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Kelly Devine (Rock of Ages, Diana), with music supervision by Ian Eisendrath (A Christmas Story, Diana), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (Rock of Ages, Be More Chill)  costume design by Toni-Leslie James (Jelly’s Last Jam), lighting design by Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys, Hamilton), sound design by Gareth Owen (Diana, A Bronx Tale).

Important MESSAGE FROM THE PRODUCER

Like all of you, we at COME FROM AWAY have been closely following the COVID-19 outbreak. The health, safety and well-being of our staff, artists, audiences and our community will always be paramount.

Following the Federal Government’s advice on Friday 13 March strongly advising against gatherings of more than 500 people to help contain the spread of the virus, the final performance of our season at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne will be on Sunday 15 March at 6pm.

COME FROM AWAY, at its core, is a story of kindness and humanity and as we navigate this situation together, we are reminded of the importance of community and extending a helping hand to others during this difficult time for so many.

Whilst we are concluding our season at the Comedy Theatre after nine months of critical acclaim and standing ovations, becoming the most successful production in the theatre’s 91-year history, today we announce that COME FROM AWAY will return to Melbourne for a strictly limited, six-week encore season in February 2021.

Patrons holding tickets for performances after Sunday March 15 will be given priority access to the encore season. From Tuesday 17 March, these customers will be contacted directly with details on how to exchange their tickets or receive a refund.

Tickets for the limited season in February 2021 will go on sale to the public from Friday 20 March.

Producer, Rodney Rigby said: The health, safety and well-being of our staff, artists, audiences and our community must always be paramount. Whilst our current season will come to an end on Sunday 15 March, we are thrilled to bring COME FROM AWAY back for a limited season to the city that has embraced it with open arms and made it such a stunning success.”

The Smash-Hit Broadway Musical Come From Away Is Coming to Sydney

By Jane Albert
 Broadsheet. 

It’s based on the remarkable true story of a tiny-but-mighty town off the east coast of Canada that embraced thousands of stranded passengers on September 11.

There are three surprising things about the hit musical Come From Away. The first is the event that’s the catalyst for the whole storyline: September 11. The second thing (that surprised this cynical musical-theatregoer, at least): it’s a celebration of kindness – an unusual theme for any work of art. (That said, as Australia reels from catastrophic bushfires and coronavirus panic, who doesn’t need a little kindness?) And the third surprising thing? It’s all based on a true story.

This is anything but your typical musical.

Come From Away was a surprise Broadway smash in 2017. Subsequent productions have all been hugely successful too – and it’s coming to Sydney in August. It tells the story of the unforgettable day in 2001 when 38 planes – and 7000 passengers – were diverted to Gander, a small town on the island of Newfoundland, off the coast of Canada, after the US government shut down all American airspace and diverted all planes.

The bewildered travellers were grounded indefinitely and suddenly, and the island’s population almost doubled in just a few hours. Without exception, the locals opened their doors to the visitors, who they called the “Come From Aways”: housing them, feeding them, sharing their clothes and toys, and even inducting some as honorary Ganderites. Lifelong friendships were formed. Relationships began, while others ended.

In 2011, a ceremony was held on Gander reuniting some of the visitors and their hosts. When Canadian musical-theatre duo Irene Sankoff and David Hein heard about the reunion, they were fascinated. The couple – who also wrote the musical My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, based on Hein’s family – began to do some research, and, after securing a grant from the Canadian government, flew to Gander for a three-week stay.

“We ended up staying longer because no one would let us pay for hotels; they kept saying, ‘Stay with us’, and would literally give us their house, and fed us nonstop,” says Hein. “We saw the same generosity the Come From Aways did 10 years ago.”

The couple recorded hundreds of interviews with the willing townspeople and returned home to New York City armed with newspaper cuttings, thousands of hours of tape and letters passengers had sent back to Gander. They were convinced they had the makings of a stage show.

They also knew it had to be a musical. “There’s something in the DNA of Newfoundlanders – maybe it’s the terrible winters when they have nothing to do, but they all play three instruments and keep warm by going to each other’s kitchens and having a party and singing songs,” says Hein. “It’s how they’ve learnt to survive.”

The couple’s enthusiasm for the story wasn’t universally shared, though. Five writing teams declined to explore the project, convinced the idea was a terrible one. Sankoff and Hein were told it had three fatal flaws: it wasn’t a one-star vehicle (it’s an ensemble of 12 actors, each performing multiple roles); it had a name no one would remember; and since it was referred to as “the 9/11 musical”, it wasn’t exactly a crowd-puller.

But the duo had been in New York during September 11 and its aftermath, and had been buoyed by the intense community support they’d experienced. They knew this was a story that had to be told.

After a positive response following a workshop in Washington DC (particularly from those affected by September 11) and tryouts in Canada and the US in 2015 and 2016, Come From Away opened on Broadway in 2017 to near-universal acclaim. Ben Brantley of The New York Times gave it a rave review. It went on to win multiple Tony and Olivier awards from its Broadway and West End seasons respectively.

“It was really important we got it right for the 9/11 community. One lady who’d lost a family member in the Pentagon was deeply concerned about the show,” says Sankoff. “Afterwards she said it was a tribute to the people who were lost and gave her some hope there was still good in the world.”

Part of the show’s success is that it’s not saccharine. It doesn’t shy away from the horror. Some passengers did ultimately learn family members had been killed – and a sobering sense of fear and grief takes centre stage at several points in Come From Away. The show also explores the racism and xenophobia that proliferated against Muslims and people from the Middle East after the attacks.

But ultimately, a message of hope, cross-cultural understanding and togetherness prevails. And we need that as much now as we did back then.

Hein and Sankoff will be travelling to Sydney for the opening, along with some of the real Ganderites and characters portrayed in the show. “Beverley has seen it more than 200 times, Nick and Diane around 150,” says Sankoff, referring to a few of the key characters. “Every time we have a new opening the real people come. It’s been such a joy to give them this reason to reunite, and we’re looking forward to seeing them all again in Sydney.”

Broadway’s hit 9/11 musical is coming to Sydney at the perfect time

By Ben Neutze
 Time Out. 

Every time there’s an enormous tragedy – when a large loss of life reverberates loudly around the world – stories of humans responding to extreme circumstances flow thick and fast. Some are horrifying, but we all know that there are others that are affirming. To look for acts of kindness and generosity is about the best many of us can do in times of crisis.

One of those affirming stories unfolded in Gander, Newfoundland in the days after the September 11 attacks. The punishingly cold Canadian town had a population of around 9,000 at the time, but when planes were suddenly grounded at the town’s airport following the attacks, 7,000 strangers found themselves stranded for up to six days. But instead of reacting to those strangers with fear or suspicion – and it was a time of enormous fear around the world – the locals warmly embraced them and welcomed them into their homes.

Canadian musical theatre writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein were intrigued by this story and in 2011 – on the tenth anniversary of the attacks – visited Gander to interview both locals and returning passengers about their experiences.

“We didn’t know what we were looking for when we went out there, and most people there doing interviews were press, looking for the quick soundbites,” Sankoff says. “We just started talking to people, going to their houses for dinner, and getting invited to spend the night there. We fell in love with them and what they did; and how brave it was to not keep 7,000 people trapped on planes, hungry, angry and scared – to bring them off the planes and into their community and buildings.”

The husband and wife pair then started crafting those stories into a musical, doing their best to honour all they’d been told. And unlike many musicals based on real events – which can play fast and loose with the facts – Sankoff and Hein wanted to make the truth as compelling as possible.

As a result, the first draft was more than five hours long, but after whittling those stories down (unfortunately an extended bit about air traffic controllers making chilli for the locals while planes were grounded was cut down to a single line) they premiered the musical in 2012 at an Ontario college.

“We were pretty sure we’d have a good future with high schools and colleges being forced to do it, because of the Canadian content,” Sankoff says.

Neither expected that the show – which spoke to a pivotal New York story from a different perspective – would go on to have a Broadway season in 2017, let alone London, Melbourne and Sydney seasons. In October 2018 it surpassed The Drowsy Chaperone to become Broadway’s longest-running Canadian show, and it’s still going strong.

But the phenomenon of the show extends beyond the material itself – the individuals about whom the show was written attend opening nights and are invested in the show’s success. One is Beverley Bass, who was the first female captain of an American Airlines plane and whose plane was diverted to Gander. She’s come to see the show more than 100 times and became friends with Jenn Colella, who plays her on Broadway.

“It’s such a unique gift, as playwrights, to have the characters in your show come to your show, and also cheer you on on social media, and write to you constantly, and write to the actors,” Hein says.

The Australian cast even received letters from the real-life people they’re portraying long before rehearsals commenced. But all of them play multiple characters in the fast-moving production, which is driven by the music native to Newfoundland; a Celtic-inspired folk-rock fusion that Hein grew up with, featuring fiddles, accordions and a driving hand drum called the bodhrán.

“It’s music that you’ve never heard on a Broadway stage or a musical theatre stage,” Hein says. “It’s this traditional music that comes about from how hard it is living on this rock with these terrible winters, and in response to that, they’ve created this music that compels you to jump up and dance. It’s like affirming life in response to the hardships of life.”

That makes the music, in a way, the perfect vehicle for this story about people responding to an enormously difficult challenge. The piece itself – which reminds of the importance of welcoming outsiders and giving to people in need – has taken on new resonances in the age of Brexit, Trump and Australia’s own border policies. It’s not difficult to imagine how such a story might speak to Australian audiences.

“We didn’t have a crystal ball, and we couldn’t have known,” Sankoff says. “We really thought we were writing a period piece to begin with, about something that happened a long time ago, that we thought had more or less resolved by now – which was naive and not quite the case.”

Hein hopes that the story of kindness and generosity can stand as an example for not only how we should respond to crisis, but how we should treat one another every day.

“Right now it feels almost necessary to have a story about people coming together and finding commonalities and bridging the things that break us apart.”