Thursday, July 30, 2020
Theatre Thursday #12
Puzzle spoilers and hot theater takes ensue. Read after solving if you care about either.
Have you ever loved something so much that you don't even know how to talk about it? That's how I feel right now, writing about "Come From Away". In actually, I have an ungodly amount to say so I'm hoping I'm able to be articulate and reasonably concise in the sentences that follow. I saw "Come From Away" about a year and a half ago and it's truly difficult to capture the power and heart that this show has managed to embody with little to no fanfare. The set, as you can see from the photo above, is nearly non-existent, as is the presence of any major props, costumes, or production value to speak of. Instead, you find yourself confronted by perhaps the strongest ensemble work of any show you've ever seen -- with each actor double-cast and not a single one emerging as the lead or the star. Rather, the ensemble as a whole elevates itself and rises to a new level of excellence that I've never seen before in the theater. If you've yet to experience the magic of this show, there's some good news: 1) It's slated to go on tour again next year (fingers crossed that the arts will be in a position to return by then); and 2) the musical is almost entirely sung through, so by listening to the cast album you are able to catch all but about 20 minutes of the story. STORY. That is really what this musical does so well. Tells a story. Tells a true story. And not only tells a story but tells the story that we so desperately need to hear and be reminded of right now: that there is good among us and within us.
This is a beautiful and unusual show. The songs, barring a few, do not feel like show tunes. The function of the music is so narrative that it's possible to even forget that the storytelling is being done through song. The handful of characters present in the show were condensed from hours of interviews with tons of real life people and yet the narrative comes out feeling seamless and natural. So much could have gone wrong at so many points in the development of a true story centering around 9/11 that would then be produced in New York. But it's perfect. (And in my opinion should have won Best Book at the Tony's that year). Perhaps right now as much as ever its message serves as a hopeful reminder that there can be acts of kindness that bridge our differences in response to a terrible event. I hope you feel inspired to either visit or revisit the cast album, and/or keep an eye out for tickets whenever the world resumes as normal. For now, I'm including a link to the cast of "Come From Away" performing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert that I just cried through all 18 minutes of. I hope you enjoy -- and be sure to grab a box of tissues! 🎭🧩