By D Partner Studio Feb 10, 2020
Any American who lived through the September 11, 2001
attacks can remember how terrifying a time it was. The uncertainty, fear, and mourning rocked us all
to our cores.
We’ve heard the stories of the New York residents who watched the attacks in real-time, the first responders who risked their lives to save others, and the families and friends who lost loved ones. The story we haven’t yet heard, though, is one Come From Away aims to tell–what happened to other planes, other flights and passengers, who were airborne across the world during the attacks?
In the hours following the Twin Towers crashes, The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration made the choice to shut down its airspace. Over 4,000 planes were forced to land at the nearest airport. Inbound flights from Europe were diverted to Canada. Gander International Airport, in Newfoundland, Canada, was informed that 38 planes would soon be landing. The town of Gander was home to only 10,000 residents at the time; the nearly 7,000 passengers and crew who suddenly arrived presented quite a challenge to the small community.
The residents of Gander united to welcome the “Come From Aways.” As the passengers deplaned, they were escorted to local philanthropies who had agreed to host (Salvation Army centers, churches, schools, and more). 48 hours passed before any passengers were cleared to depart. In these long, frightening two days, the “Come From Aways” and Gander residents formed inseparable bonds–bonds the show aims to portray and honor.
Many of the show’s characters are based on real people. Beverley Bass, one of the show’s lead
characters, was a noted
champion of aviation; she was the very first female captain of a commercial airline (at American
Airlines in 1986).
The real-life Captain Bass and the actor who plays her, Drama Desk winner & Tony Awards nominee Jenn
Colella, became good
friends as they collaborated to bring Bass’ presence to the stage.
The show’s co-authors Irene Sankoff and David Hein (a married couple!) interviewed thousands of Gander residents and “Come From Aways” to tell the story of all 16,000 individuals in the most authentic way possible.
The show breaks down borders and reminds us what brings us together, not what sets us apart. Come From Away is now on an international tour, and as it portrays the international camaraderie seen in Gander, it fosters these relations in real-time, too. (When Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw the show, he invited Ivanka Trump to join him.) Says Hein, “What we’re doing is [introducing] two groups of protagonists. We’re taking the people coming to the strange place, but we’re also taking the people who lived in the strange place and showing how they were both changed and they both came together. That’s what makes us whole. It’s not us and them, it’s all of us.”
May 10 - 21, 2023
Chris Mouland, Flight Manager in Gander
Within a few hours, Nav Canada had safely brought 43,895 passengers and crew to the ground across Canada, coast-to-coast without incident. The tiny town of Gander - with a population of 10,500 - had 6,595 of them.
A few examples:
The local dentist brought in toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Every store in town was open twenty-four hours. And blankets
and bedding came in from Ladle Cove, Aspen Cove, Twillingate,
and Wesleyville — town that were two hours away.
Beluah Cooper, a long-standing member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Lion’s Club, was among the town’s most accomplished shower keepers; her door was always open, and with the number of folks coming by for a hot shower, that door might as well have been a revolving one.
"September 11 changed the world forever, but it didn't change the people of Gander and surrounding areas and the way they operate, willing to help your people in a time of need...if any time there's a tragedy, you feel free to drop by Gander. We will be here."
Come From Away is based on a true story – everything portrayed on stage was influenced by a real person or pulled from an experience that occurred in Gander in Sept. 2001
Every character in the musical is based on a real person who either lived in Gander and the surrounding towns or was diverted to Gander on 9/11
The music is different from any other musical and is uniquely connected to the culture of the real place that inspired the story
The show features an ensemble cast, and each member plays several roles so there is no “star” or main character to sell the show – the “star” itself is the story
—Olivier Awards (London)
—Helen Hayes Awards (Washington, D.C.)
—What's On Stage Awards (London)
Toronto Theatre Critics Awards (Toronto)
Irene and David are a Canadian married writing team. They won the 2019 Olivier Award and were nominated for the 2018 Grammy Award and the 2017 Tony Award for their book and score for Come From Away, with the show itself winning the 2019 Olivier Award for Best Musical, three 2017 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, four Helen Hayes Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards and three Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical. David and Irene were also the recipients of the 2017 Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for Best Book.
Their first show, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (based on David’s mother’s true story) was produced by Mirvish Productions in Toronto and played and won best musical awards across North America, with Sankoff and Hein performing in most productions. They are currently working on projects with Disney, Warner Bros. and Netflix. Irene and David are the recipients of the Good Neighbour Award from the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy and the Meritorious Service Cross of Canada. They are proud members of the Dramatists Guild, Writer’s Guild East and ASCAP. Immeasurable thanks to everyone who helped us on this journey and to our extraordinary friends from Away and in Newfoundland for inspiring and trusting us to tell your story.
May 10 - 21, 2023
2012 - Set a record for single day tickets sales at the Royal Theatre - 4,000 tickets. Sold out run.
2013 - Public demo at The Atrium 6-mths prior was swamped. Then, Langford mayor shuts down streets for STOMP performance on the eve of Victoria's opening night - thousands attend! The show: A hit!
2016 - MAMMA MIA's! Farewell Tour. The show retained its timeless popularity to the end.
2017 - We had a hunch smoldering hot bods, crime and fishnet would interest Victoria folk. We were right. CHICAGO set a new single day ticket sales record at the Royal Theatre - 4,700 tickets. Sold out run.
2019 - Rodgers and Hammerstein's legendary musical, Catherine Zuber costumes and the largest show to appear at the Royal Theatre wowed audiences.
2019 - The incredible rags-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. To paraphrase one of the Boys, "There are three ways to get out of town: You can join the Army, you can get Mobbed Up, or you can take the BC Ferry", which they did.