'Come From Away,' an uplifting tale of how people come together in the wake of tragedy, is coming to ASU Gammage

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The Broadway musical “Come From Away” — coming to ASU Gammage this month — is based on the true stories of the passengers and crews on flights that were grounded following the events of 9/11. 

When the U.S. shut down its airspace, the flights that were already en route had to be redirected elsewhere. Canada offered to take in any planes flying from Europe, and 38 of those flights were redirected to the Gander International Airport in Gander, Newfoundland, an island community off the North Atlantic coast.  

The population of Gander at the time was about 10,000 people, and the redirected flights were carrying about 7,000 passengers and crew members. After waiting for over five hours for permission to offboard, these new arrivals were taken to community centers, schools and churches in Gander and the surrounding towns. 

The show is about the “kindness, generosity and connection of people from different backgrounds coming together to help each other during a period that was really scary,” said Marika Aubrey, the lead actress of “Come From Away.” 

Aubrey’s main role in "Come From Away" is Capt. Beverly Bass, who was a real flight captain and flew one of the planes that was redirected to Gander. Bass was the first female captain for American Airlines, where she also captained the first all-female crew in the history of commercial jet aviation. 

“My favorite part of this role is the influx of messages from young ladies who are perhaps wanting or aspiring to be in industries that are male-dominated, and the story of Beverly really inspires them to (pursue) their goals,” Aubrey said. 

“Come From Away” features an original Celtic, folk-rock score with British influences and world music elements that add to the uplifting tone of the story. The song “Prayer” interweaves different religious music along with original sounds to create a piece that is both vocally beautiful and carries a moment of reflection for the ensemble and audience. 

This story centers on the two different groups of peoplethe Newfoundlanders and the people aboard the flightsas they learn about the tragedy of the terrorist attacks and mourn together. The similarities between the two groups become more and more apparent as they open their hearts and homes to one another. 

“There is something about a collective catharsis of going through a shared trauma that does bond people and unify communities. It crosses over religion, politics, culture and ethnicity,” Aubrey said. 

The characters are loosely based on real people like Beverly Bass and her crew. The cast members were able to meet with and review countless interviews of their real-life counterparts before beginning production. 

“Come From Away” has a small cast of 12 actors and actresses who are on stage throughout the show. These cast members all play multiple roles that showcase the diverse experiences of those that found themselves in Gander at the time. 

“It's not just me in the spotlight or someone else in the spotlight. We all have moments, but we all tell the story together. You can tell that we all are helping each other, and we all love each other; we're proud of the story we're telling together,” Aubrey said. 

Audiences can expect moments that are sincere and reflective, followed by genuine moments of human interaction and lighthearted humor. The musical emphasizes the connection that was made between the people involved and shows why that connection has stood the test of time, even two decades later.  

“People walk away feeling like we have more that unites us than we have that divides us,” Aubrey said. “We're all human beings, and there's nothing wrong with being kind and looking after each other even if we're different.” 

“Come From Away” will be at ASU Gammage from June 14–19. For tickets and more information, visit asugammage.com/shows-events/come-away.

Emily Mai
emai3@asu.edu

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