Opinion: Come From Away Deserves Every Single Tony Ever

Come From Away on Youtube

Brianna Ifland, Editor/Reporter

On October 28, I had the privilege of watching the Walton Art Center’s first Broadway performance since March 20 of 2020: Come From Away

I was excited about the technical features of the show, as it had an open-stage beginning. The set was well-designed, but not too elaborate; I saw lighting in the “trees” and other little areas such as neon bar/restaurant signs. 

Normally, I prefer classical or golden age sounds to more contemporary productions, but the music is clever and well-performed; the use of layers and recurring motifs painted the panic and grief very well, as did the use of dissonant chords and their inevitable resolve. In “I Am Here,” specifically, the performance balanced vocal proficiency and pain the scene demanded. 

My personal favorite song was the one with layered hymns/prayers– “Prayer.” Religion plays such a strong role in grieving and finding solace in impossible situations, and the various sounds blended so well without diluting any of the religions/cultures portrayed. 

At first, I regretted going in blind and feared not understanding the show due to being new; however, the narrative flowed smoothly and I think it being my first listen heightened the emotional impact.

The ensemble was breathtaking and their transition between characters (Gander locals, plane passengers, etc.) was clear and seamless. This was done through their distinct accents, body language, and quick costume changes. Many were done on-stage, but never upstaged the focus of the scene. 

The comedy in this show was witty and managed to not disrespect the tragedy of the characters’ scenario, which is hard to do when discussing personal stories relating to 9/11. The staging was clever and they used the minimal yet versatile set to its full capacity/use. I loved how they staged phone calls through lighting (the individual LEDs, which I used as inspiration for the upcoming one-act, the spots, etc.) and the quippy back-and-forth nature of the actors’ delivery. 

It was the little things like the short timing in between lines that made the play truly come together: small, collective movements such as the shake of the bus, the dedication to the tableau, or the backlighting through the platform/wall. 

Bomber students at the Walton Arts Center

The characterization of the ensemble was done bit-by-bit and I feel as though it showed how the actual passengers/locals felt during those three or so days– so many new faces that it’s nearly overwhelming or impossible to keep track of who is who, and, as time goes on, you know them enough to miss them after the final number.

The aforementioned “overwhelming” nature, I feel, is attributed to the tempo of the show. It moves at a very fast pace, so, when there is a decrescendo or even an absence of noise/movement, it shows. Take, for example, the moment of silence. The show had very few, if any, moments of complete stillness or lack of sound until that point. 

Ultimately, I was blown away by this show. Having been used to mostly local or high school level theatre, I cannot overstate how grateful I am to have watched Come From Away with Bomber Theatre, as well as the fact I had this opportunity in the first place. 

“Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere,

In the middle of who knows where… 

You found your heart but left a part of you behind”

– 38 Planes (Reprise).