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Theater review: Innovative must-see musical 'Come From Away' shares real-life 9/11 stories with warmth and joy

Like a cozy, handcrafted scarf, the innovative musical "Come From Away" is tightly knitted piece of theater art that wraps audiences in its warmth while flashing some shiny threads and snazzy flourishes.

The crowd-pleasing smash is unlike any other national touring production recently routed through the Civic Center, and not just because the show runs just one hour and 45 minutes and skips the intermission. Tony-nominated Canadian composers and lyricists Irene Sankoff and David Hein have created an ensemble piece in which the dozen cast members and eight-person acoustic band bring to life an entire village and an eclectic crowd of unexpected visitors.

Based on a myriad of true stories, "Come From Away" is set on the island hamlet of Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11, 2001, when the small Canadian town's airport became the emergency landing place for 38 jumbo jets as the terrorist attacks shut down U.S. airspace for the first time in history.

The community of about 9,000 residents suddenly found themselves trying to feed, clothe and shelter 7,000 airline passengers of various languages, countries and creeds.

One of the real-life people depicted in the musical, Beverley Bass, the trailblazing retired American Airlines pilot who lives in Argyle, Texas, and now flies a private plane out of Oklahoma City's Wiley Post Airport, calls "Come From Away" a 9/12 story rather than a 9/11 story. The focus of the uplifting show is the way the people of Gander and the surrounding towns worked nonstop for days to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a horde of strangers, who eventually responded with their own outpourings of generosity.

Often playing traditional folk instruments like Irish flute, bouzouki and bodhran, the band performs on stage, usually hovering around the edges of Beowulf Boritt's cannily simple set design but occasionally joining the cast to create a lively pub scene.

Under the Tony-winning direction of Christopher Ashley, the actors, who all play multiple characters, seamlessly swap out accents, attitudes and accessories to change roles mid-scene and deftly rearrange chairs to switch settings from the inside of an airplane to a small-town coffee shop to a backyard barbecue.

An important and unique piece of art, "Come From Away" also happens to a joyously resonant must-see musical. It's playing through Sunday at the Civic Center. For tickets and information, go to www.okcbroadway.com or call 594-8300.

— Brandy McDonnell, The Oklahoman

Related Photos
<strong>The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo]</strong>

The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0654d28c8f63e65d24ffca9a01058dca.jpg" alt="Photo - The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] " title=" The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] "><figcaption> The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-730ef6aa9e9e441cb6f549d79fa8376c.jpg" alt="Photo - The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] " title=" The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] "><figcaption> The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d431b9806e30bf3359bfb69c610cde4f.jpg" alt="Photo - The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] " title=" The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] "><figcaption> The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0493efd84158194743def4fdf4685852.jpg" alt="Photo - The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] " title=" The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] "><figcaption> The North American tour cast of "Come From Away" performs. [Matthew Murphy photo] </figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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