Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, (212) 239-6200
Come From Away
The idea of a feel-good Broadway musical about 9/11 “sounds like a show that most New Yorkers would run a city mile to avoid,” said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. But Come From Away is “smarter than it first appears,” and its tug on the heart is so honestly earned that “even the most stalwart cynics may have trouble staying dry-eyed.” The setting is a Newfoundland town that on Sept. 11, 2001, saw its population nearly double when 38 airliners were forced to land there, to clear North America’s skies after the day’s terror attacks. Though the show “starts off in a grating key of deep earnestness,” the urgency of the scenario takes over. Nearly 7,000 newcomers have to be fed and sheltered, and the cast of 12 conveys the scramble in a “surreal blur” of activity.
Unfortunately, the Canadian do-gooders prove “almost teeth-grindingly sweet,” said Jesse Green in New York magazine. As the American interlopers get schooled in living more generously, the 40 or so characters given life by Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s script “whiz past our attention too indistinguishably.” A few manage to stand out, said Tim Teeman in TheDailyBeast.com. In a memorable solo, a pilot played by Jenn Colella closes a tale of triumphing over sexism with a gut-punch realization. A soft-spoken Egyptian passenger, played by Caesar Samayoa, encounters ethnic profiling of a sort that quickly became a new normal. Mostly, though, Come From Away emphasizes the good in people, and though some theatergoers may want a 9/11 drama that doesn’t aim for uplift, “resistance to the show as performed is a pretty futile.”