Saturday, July 13

Come From Away – Sheffield Lyceum

Musical Theatre does not get any better than this! It has a heart and Soul, so buckle up on the soaring flight that lands exactly where it should – in the hearts and minds of its audience. Pure Perfection! Direct from the West End this award-winning musical ‘that welcomes the world’ is written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and Directed by Christopher Ashley, Musical Staging by Kelly Devine. With Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt we are greeted by stage that is versatile yet warming and welcoming. With the trees aligning the wings and a wooden slatted wall upstage, the only other set is movable and mismatched tables and chairs which are manipulated by the cast with a choreographical magic to behold.  The band are visible upstage left as they interact with the cast and seamlessly perform their amalgamation of Gaelic folk music laced with popular culture. The orchestrations by August Eriksmoen and the Arrangements by Ian Eisendrath add so much to the experience but do so with subtle supremacy. Songs such as Welcome to the Rock and On the Edge are catchy and will become MT stables. But the Prayer was one of the best songs I have heard in Musical Theatre, emotive, beautiful and so very cleverly arranged. I have more than one tear in my eye. The complete creative product just gels effortlessly.

The story is a true one which heightens the investment of the audience. 11th September (9/11) and the town of Gander; a now unused air base; in NewFoundland is suddenly the receiver of 38 diverted planes. With a population of 10,000, for five days the town welcomes an extra 7,000 people, scared people, and the best of humanity radiates in a time when the devastating worse of humanity is headline news.  The individual story of the residents and visitors are interwoven and detailed as their experience is given the time and respect to grow on the stage. We empathise with the joys, the fears, the love, the prejudice, the spirit of kindness as the whole encounter becomes a beacon of what humans are intrinsically – caring, resilient and protectors. This retelling is not only joyful and heart-warming but the reality of the situation draws the audience to new heights of character investment.

The cast are absolutely a match for the brilliance of the production, their timing, complexity of movement, energy and talent are exceptional. With no interval in this production and a running time of 1hour 40 minutes, the cast are on stage the entire time with very, very few visits to the wings for a quick drink of water! The speed they change roles is awe inspiring and here is where the Costume Design by Toni-Leslie James comes into its own form of genius, with a jacket here and a hat there we are given multiply role play of supersonic speed. All totally gripping and believable, the costume and the superb skill of the cast don’t give us a moment to see through the clouds as the sky is the limit for this production… heavenly synchronicity in motion!

All the cast take other roles but primarily Natasha J. Barnes as the new reporter; Mark Dugdale and Jamal Zulfiqar as the two Kevin’s, Dale Mathurin as Bob, Oliver Jacobson as Oz, Nicholas Pound as the Mayor of Gander, Sara Poyzer as the Pilot, Amanda Henderson as the Teacher, Kirsty Hoiles as Diane and Rosie Glossop as Bonnie – the animal lover, Daniel Crowder the British passenger, Bree Smith as Hannah are all equally mesmerising! From the initial welcome at Canada’s Tim Horton’s to the finale of 10 years later and the reuniting of the visitors with the Islanders, we are taken on their journey from being stuck for days on a plane and the uncertainty of what was happening, to sleeping on the floors of school buildings, to acceptance of kindness and sleeping in resident houses, to mass barbeques and kissing fish, with plenty of alcohol thrown in. The pace is supersonic, the detail is micro, the performances are magic, and the music drives the flight to a new found land.! I simply cannot put into words how wonderfully uplifting and powerful this musical is. There is no wonder it has such a devoted following.

If I could give this production 6 stars I would give it 7! It is that good. Playing at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 20th July… you really cannot afford to miss this production. If you see just one show this year make sure it is this one. Come From Away welcomes the world to a place on a Rock where people take centre stage and humanity shines at its brightest. A real life story, tremendous writing, wonderfully emotive directing, exceptional stage choreography, a stellar Cast, outstanding music and musicians and a set that takes you right there. Just…. Wow!! 

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 9th July 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.