Welcome to the Rock
On the northeast tip of North America, on an island called Newfoundland, there’s an airport that used to be one of the biggest airports in the world. Next to it is a town, called Gander. On September 11, 2001, Gander, among other places, held passengers, pilots and anyone else on a plane headed to or away from the US. During a time of great tragedy and loss, the people of Gander showed the many at their doorstep the value of kindness and generosity. In March 2012, a musical was in the works to honor that fateful day, but also to show the power of kindness. The musical is “Come From Away.”
As the US government tried to make sense of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, planes that traveled to and from the US were demanded to land while the US air space was closed. About 38 planes landed on the Newfoundland air strip. The passengers and workers had little to no knowledge of what had just happened. The passengers stayed on the plane for about 28 to 31 hours before being escorted out and sent to temporary shelters around Newfoundland. After being held in the planes for more than a day the passengers were eager to leave, but were more eager to eventually go home. Little did they know, they would be there for some time.
Once you think about it a small town like Gander that held around 7,000 unsettled travelers, especially after a massive attack like the Twin Tower attacks, would have been a recipe for disaster. Instead, it seemed that everyone ended up getting along, and strangely, people would return to Newfoundland, years after the incident, to honor the day that brought them there. Some would even come back to say hi to old friends. During the time they spent there, the people coming from the planes were given the nickname, “The Plane People,” and later were referred to as, “Come From Aways.”
While citizens on US soil were in a panic, the “Come From Aways” found friendship.
Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere
A lot of buzz came from people who wanted to know what exactly happened those few days the “Come From Aways” stayed in Gander after they heard about the reception from what happened in Newfoundland. Many articles were written that showed how a small town willingly doubled their population for a time. One of the works that came out of all this digging was a small musical named after the people the Gander citizens opened their town for.
The musical was very well received and officially went to Broadway in 2017. The show stars only a handful of actors but these few actors have to portray around three people each, which sounds challenging. With how the actors portray the characters’ individuality, you fall into the story and don’t mind that one actor plays three people.
The story is also done a great job honoring the people who went to Gander. The characters and setting portrays the panic that must have occurred at the time and how things weren’t always smooth sailing during their stay. It also show how a handful of kind people could change a potential riot to a bar party for the ages.
The music featured in the musical are well written and catchy. Even though it isn’t as musically acclaimed as shows such as Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, the music isn’t aiming to fill the same shoes as those shows and is great in it’s own right. The opening song has a rich clam before the storm vibe. The song where the passengers are getting restless on the planes is high chaotically high energy and the finale is uplifting and satisfying.
I am Here
Nowadays, people in the US are divided, and they find the smallest thing to argue about, but we forget that the person next to you is a person. How a small town of roughly 10,000 people opened their doors to strangers isn’t the thing that impacted us; how a small town opened their hearts and minds, showing a stranger kindness without knowing anything about them, but only because he or she needs it, was. “Come From Away” reminds us that kindness is the way to view others. So be kind if you’re coming from Toledo or coming from Taipei, because we come from everywhere. We all come from away.