• Michael Randall

Come From Away

As we have covered on this blog before, when discussing the release of Hamilton on Disney Plus, I am very fond of a musical. Nominally, this came from needing to pass long periods of time on public transport, and having, in effect, a concept album to accompany the journey. However, there are some incredibly catchy songs, too, and interesting stories (well, apart from Cats…or anything Andrew Lloyd Webber, really. Truly the Coldplay of musical theatre).

The easiest ones to discuss are your absolute favourites – for me, that would be Les Misérables (you don’t want me to write about that, it will involve a rant or two), Hamilton (done) and Wicked (that is going to be, in effect, why the book upon which it is based is a let-down, but the show is fantastic. There is a poster in my office which is Wicked themed – I love the point of being seen as the villain in your own story).

However, the whole point in this blog, initially, was to try and highlight slightly more obscure points for you to check out during lockdown – things which might pique your interest, which you hadn’t considered previously. And if that is the underlying reasoning, then I should follow my own advice, so to speak, and write about another show, Come From Away.

Come From Away was recommended to me very strongly by two separate Personal Development Adviser students, completely independently of each other. They are in different year groups and cohorts, so I’m doubting that it was a concerted/coordinated effort on their part to get me to check out the soundtrack/the show. I was assured, though, that it was “so good”, and that I had to check it out.

From what I can gather, the original production of the show was held/written in Canada. It has a basic premise, and is based on a true story. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the United States closed its airspace to all craft. Yet there were planes in the air, and they had to land somewhere. A number of planes landed at an airfield in Newfoundland, Canada – in a very remote/not exactly metropolitan part of the world. The show is an account of passengers singing their circumstances, and how the town rallied together to support people during adversity.

‘Welcome to the Rock’ is the opening song, and for me, is probably the best song on the soundtrack. I like it, but it doesn’t have a single stand-out/stellar song – as much as I deride Mr Lloyd Webber, there is usually one stand out song from his shows. I’d struggle to hum one of the later songs in the show, but it does tackle the subject well – the frustration of passengers not being told anything, those trying to phone their loved ones to let them know they were safe/to check on them, some optimism, and ultimately (spoiler alert) some loss, too.

I have actually seen the show, though. Last December, I went down to London for a weekend (my tort law class will know about this, because I came back explaining how reckless everyone was, and saying how what they had studied applied in a practical setting). The journey was, principally, to go and watch another show, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (we’ll see if I write that up – it definitely has some stellar songs). However, given that I was travelling a distance, and my friend was also travelling from South Wales, we both arrived the day before the show. In researching what we could do on the first evening, we found some very good (and affordable) seats for Come From Away. They hadn't really heard much of the show beforehand - this is always a slightly awkward state of affairs. It's a more expensive version of recommending a film to your friend, and them potentially not enjoying it, although I have made sure that I actually watch the show, and not watch my friend's reaction to watching the show.

It works far better if you are watching the stage production live. The actors are playing multiple characters, which doesn’t always come across on the soundtrack recording. The stage/setting is moved around, so chairs in a bar suddenly become the seats on a plane, for example. There are some spoken sections which are funny, and you can see how precise everyone is with their placement – it’s a miracle no one bumps into each other and takes out a fellow cast mate. It also doesn't have an interval - it's not a short show, but it does mean that you aren't too tired coming out of it.

Either way, the show/soundtrack is well worth checking out. It turns out that my PDAs do have good taste, after all.

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