One of the stars of the Broadway production of Come From Away has said the musical gives people not directly affected by the September 11 tragedies 20 years ago ‘permission to grieve’.
The hit show is set in the week following the 9/11 attacks and tells the true story of what happened when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland in Canada with 7,000 stranded travellers in need of food and a place to stay.
The show, which has also been a hit in the West End and re-opened on July 22, was dark for more than a year due to the pandemic before the cast returned to the New York stage to film a performance, which is being released on Apple TV Plus ahead of the 20th anniversary of the atrocities.
Sharon Wheatley, who originated the role of Diane in the show, told the PA news agency: ‘I think that one of the great things about Come From Away is that it gives people who didn’t necessarily have a direct connection to the Pentagon or the flight in Pennsylvania, or what happened at the World Trade Centre, permission to grieve and permission to reflect on a time, I think, everyone was traumatised.
Explaining how ‘not everybody had the language to really speak about their personal experience’ in relation to 9/11, Wheatley also praised the show for ‘the alternate universe of something good that was happening in this terrible time of trouble’.
Wheatley’s co-star Caesar Samayoa, who is also an original cast member, knew of a personal connection to the atrocity as his brother-in-law was a New York City firefighter at the time, who spent three months in Ground Zero in the aftermath ‘and never spoke about 9/11’.
He added: ‘When he saw the show, he said I finally have a different story in my head about the kindness of humanity during this time.
‘This show helped him start speaking about that time in our history. So I am personally forever grateful about it.’
Director Chris Ashley said he hopes audiences will be able to focus on positive things that happened, rather than tragedy, adding: ‘I often think of this as a 9/12 story – it isn’t as much about the attacks on New York as it is events that happened in Newfoundland in the week after.
‘The way this extraordinary group of people took in 7,000 total strangers who didn’t share language or culture or religion and made them feel at home; fed them, clothed them, housed them and made a family, and that continues to bring tears to my eyes.
Saying that he felt ‘as though the message of this show is just as important now as it was then’, Ashley continued: ‘It’s a warm show that happens on one of the worst days in modern history – and I think that’s one of the extraordinary things, is it’s people behaving so well on such an extraordinary day and in such a hard week that I think it helps to bring meaning and give us some direction out of these moments of such conflict.’
Come From Away is out now on Apple TV Plus. Come From Away is also running at the West End’s Phoenix Theatre.
Credit: Original article published here.