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A Musical View of 9/11

Photo by Bradford Siwak

"Come From Away" tells a touching story.

Bradford Siwak, Writer

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As I planted myself into my comfy standing-room spot in the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York on March 24, I reflected on how chance brought me to that theatre only because the ticket line for “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” was shorter than expected. Chance was a prevalent theme throughout the performance. “Come From Away” demonstrated that even in the wake of an international tragedy, new bonds can emerge.

The musical told the story of Gander, Newfoundland and the 38 planes that landed in the town of 9,000 people. When the population nearly doubled, seemingly countless inhabitants volunteered at centers for the “plane people,” donated goods and opened up their homes to the strangers.

At one point in the musical a Newfoundlander said to a passenger: “Thank you for shopping at Walmart. Would you like to come back to my house for a shower?” Questions like this became commonplace in Gander language on Sept. 11, 2001, and the week following.

The musical shines a light on a very inspiring woman who was one of the many pilots diverted to Gander on the fateful September morning. The woman, Beverly Bass, is not just a pilot, but also the first female captain of American Airlines. Bass loved the musical so much that she gave the actor playing her, Jenn Colella, the actual flight jacket she wore on the fateful morning— a nice detail to make the musical more real.

What really resonated with me after the show was the sense of community on stage. This community was partially achieved with an attitude toward accepting people’s differences, and partially by having no single main character. Rather, all of the actors were leads with nearly equally-sized parts.

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A Musical View of 9/11