Thursday, July 25

Come From Away – Hull New Theatre

A complimentary badge was handed to me, along with a press pack, as I entered the Hull New Theatre on Tuesday evening, to watch the musical Come From Away.

The badge depicted the Earth surrounded by the words “Wherever We Are”, words relating to one of the 14 songs in this uplifting musical.

The story centres around the Newfoundland town of Gander whose inhabitants found themselves playing hosts to almost 7,000 passengers, as American and Canadian planes were grounded on September 11, 2001 after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York.

Although the tragedy was the catalyst for Gander’s upheaval, this lively musical doesn’t dwell on the bad stuff. The all-singing, all-dancing cast, accompanied by talented musicians, portray townsfolk who refuse to be downhearted by their plight of how to accommodate thousands of strangers, instead showing the best of humankind by instantly uniting in their endeavours to make all welcome

However, I felt for one passenger who, because of his “look”, was treated with great suspicion, understandable though it was at the time.

The stage setting rarely altered, but changed before our very eyes just by the rearranging of wooden chairs, by the cast themselves. One minute we were on an aircraft, the next on a bus, in a cafe or a pub.

The huge backdrop, never anything really fancy, changed along with the chairs.

Come From Away is a lively couple of hours, no interval, revealing personal stories, happy and sad.

We really feel for one passenger desperate to contact her firefighter son, in New York, then learning of his fate.

Happier moments come for two gay men who pretend to be boss and secretary, but who are welcomed with open arms when their relationship comes to light. And a Jewish passenger who had been afraid to be open about his religion, even to his own wife, feels brave enough to celebrate his faith.

The first female American Airlines captain, plus a news reporter on her first assignment are two of the characters adding interest to this true story.

Of course, this is a musical and Come From Away features around 14 songs, all sung loud, clear and tuneful, mainly by the company, but on one moving occasion by Hannah (Bree Smith), whose beautiful rendition of I Am Here, as she tries to contact her firefighter son, tugged at our heartstrings.

I lay the blame solely on my ears, but sometimes the company singing was so loud I couldn’t make out all the words.

Nevertheless, the energetic cast of 12 brought this musical to life in a joyful way. All, including the aforementioned Smith, had multiple roles. Natasha J Barnes, Daniel Crowder, Mark Dugdale, Rosie Glossop, Amanda Henderson, Kirsty Hoiles, Oliver Jacobson, Dale Mathurin, Nicholas Pound, Sara Poyzer and Jamal Zulfiqar worked happily together, with no one performer hogging the limelight.

This production gave us a gander (pun intended) into how a small community, without hesitation, opened their hearts and homes to thousands who “came from away”.

And Claude Elliott, Gander’s Mayor at the time, couldn’t have put it better when he said: “On 9/11 we saw the worst that could happen, but around 7,000 people in that tragedy saw the best in humanity.” Thought-provoking stuff.

Running until Saturday, June 8th, 2024; 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on Thursday, 6th and Saturday, 8th. Tickets cost from £20. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 4th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
0Shares