“Come From Away” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – June 15, 2022


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

After several less than stellar entries, the ASU Gammage Broadway series has brought the outstanding musical “Come From Away” here in a smashing touring production that does justice to the glittering show.

The musical traces the days after 9-11-01 when air traffic was grounded world-wide because of the World Trade Center bombing.  Planes were required to stay put until it was deemed safe to fly again.  Thirty-eight planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland where the tiny town dealt tenderly and touchingly with almost 7,000 passengers, more than inhabited the locale.  Gander citizens accommodated the stranded and fearful passengers by providing necessities and emotional support until the planes could take off.

Gander had one of the biggest airports in the world because before planes could make it to North America from Europe, they required a refueling stop at the airport. The grateful passengers landed in a town which had never had such a huge influx of people.  Lasting friendships occurred as the residents masterfully tackled taking care of unexpected and diverse guests.

The show, written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, explores the different ways the passengers and citizens reacted before anyone knew how long Gander would be home.  The songs provide further introspection into the ordeal’s impacts. A simple unit set allows swift changes between airplanes and land locations so the Christopher Ashley directed production runs swiftly without intermission.

“Come From Away” is tender, is touching, and is an encouraging representation in our cynical world of how people can well handle something no one thought would ever happen. The touring production’s local engagement was delayed by the pandemic but with a brilliant cast bringing these characters to distinctive and rich life, it is a treat the musical is finally here.

The one negative is a usual ASU Gammage concert hall problem.  Miserable acoustics and a less-than-perfect sound system make understanding dialogue a challenge.  In a show like “Come From Away” every word MUST be understood or the show is plagued. All through the performance audience members were relaying missed dialogue to companions.

“Come From Away” is a glistening musical theater tribute to people who rose to a demanding and difficult challenge with insight and great sensitivity.  A commendable production makes the show a treat for local audiences. If only one could hear every line of dialogue. “Come From Away” continues through Sunday, June 19.  Tickets may be obtained by calling Ticketmaster at 480-965-2022 or ordering tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Grade: A

One Response to ““Come From Away” – ASU Gammage”

  1. Heather said:

    Jun 20, 22 at 10:26

    It was thoroughly enjoyable but I agree with the comment about difficult to distinguish dialog both spoken and sung. Are there plans to upgrade the sound at Gammage? Truly frustrating that every production suffers in this way.