Come From Away – book, music & lyrics by Irene Sankoff & David Hein. Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2 to 23 May 2020. 5*****. William Russell.

Come From Away
Book, music &lyrics by Irene Sankoff & David Hein
The Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC28 0JP now booking to 23 May 2020.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 45 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7629
Review: William Russell 4 March
Put quite simply this engaging and modest musical about how the inhabitants of Gander in Newfoundland and the surrounding countryside responded when some 7000 people, passengers in aircraft diverted there after 9/11, had to be looked after is the best musical in town – and it has the awards to prove it. One cannot get to everything, but the arrival of a new cast provided the chance to see it and heart-warming, tuneful and utterly enchanting it proved to be. It is about how people can be just plain nice folk, rise to the occasion and help those in trouble. The score is a magic mix of rock and folk, which somehow sums up that remote part of offshore Canada, almost what one would expect at a ceilidh or a hooley given the origins of the communities, and the book has been put together from the stories of the townsfolk who coped and some of those from the flights stranded there until air space over the United States was re-opened. The cast play numerous characters, townsfolk and passengers, officials and air line crew, and are superbly drilled. Everyone gets their chance to shine and they seize it so no names picked out. They are all better than good.
There is a handsome sparse set – bleached wooden walls, chairs and tables and a revolve put to much use – a bit like some community hall in which the abandoned folks would have been housed, although some were put up in homes throughout the area. It is a true story, but the stories told are a mixture of lots of stories pout together for dramatic reasons – and thoroughly approved of by the people of Gander and those on the flights whose stories are told. Not every story ends happily – lovers meet, but lovers split, and for some there is nobody waiting for them at the end of their journey.
At the end the audience rose to its feet – and so did I, something that is all too easy to resist in the theatre these days when standing ovations get dished out on press nights as something considered de rigueur almost. But this one was deserved for a show which sent the audience out into the gloom of a pouring wet Wednesday afternoon simply glowing with pleasure.
Beulah: Jenna Boyd.
Bob: Tarinn Callender.
Claude: James Doherty.
Bonnie: Mary Doherty.
Kevin T Garth: Mark Dugdale.
Beverley, Anette: Alice Fearn.
Diane: Kate Graham.
Nick, Doug: Alasdair Harbey.
Kevin J. Ali: Jonathan Andrew Hume.
Oz: Harry Morrison.
Janice: Emma Salvo.
Hannah: Cat Simmons.

Director: Christopher Ashley.
Musical Staging: Kelly Devine.
Music Supervision & Arrangements: Ian Eisendrath.
Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt.
Costume Design: Toni-Leslie James.
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley.
Sound Design: Gareth Owen.
Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen.
Dialect Coach:Joel Goldes.
Associate Director & Choreographer: Tara Overfield Wilkinson.
Musical Director: Alan Berry.

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