The cast of the Toronto production of Come From Away, which closed suddenly in December, never got to say a real goodbye to the show.
The Canadian musical reopened to a full-capacity audience at the Royal Alexandra Theatre after a very long pandemic hiatus on Dec. 15, 2022, but within a week had to cancel four performances due a COVID-19 outbreak backstage.
During that break, Mirvish Productions and its co-producers realized that it would be impossible for Come From Away to resume a commercial run in Toronto amid the Omicron wave and reimposed government restrictions – and, indeed, Ontario soon completely shuttered live performance venues again. So there was never a farewell performance given.
Now, however, eight months later, most of that Canadian cast is getting a chance to sing Welcome to the Rock together again in a series of shows taking place on “the rock” itself.
Come From Away: The Concert, part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Come Home 2022 celebrations, takes the stage at the Steele Community Centre in Gander from Sept. 13 to 15 – and then again at the Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s from Sept. 19 to 21.
The cast assembled for these concert presentations of the hit musical penned by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is an almost complete reunion of the Toronto company – featuring Clint Butler and Kate Etienne (to name the two Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first) as well as Steffi DiDomenicantonio, Barbara Fulton, Amir Haidar, Lisa Horner, James Kall, Jeff Madden, Ali Momen, Cory O’Brien, Eliza-Jane Scott and Cailin Stadnyk.
Petrina Bromley, an islander actor who has been with the Broadway production since its opening playing animal-shelter manager Bonnie, is also taking part, as is original Australian cast member Kolby Kindle.
“Not only is this a great opportunity to celebrate the show in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it’s also the opportunity for some closure,” producer Michael Rubinoff, who had the original germ of the idea for the show, told me over the phone after landing in Gander last week.
Come From Away, which tells the tell the story of how the people of Gander and surrounding towns sheltered 38 planeloads of people when American airspace was shut down on Sept. 11, 2001, has been performed before in the town where the musical is set. The cast of the original production stopped by for a set of concert renditions in 2016 – and met their real-life counterparts from the community – before a run of shows in Toronto, which preceded their New York premiere.
That Broadway production of the musical is winding down its record-breaking run on Oct. 2 – but a North American touring production will continue on (with a number of stops in Canada this fall) and a new Canadian production is set to launch in 2024 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, before transferring to Toronto.
So, the story of the phenomenon that is Come From Away is far from finished – but this chapter of it can finally have the ending it deserves.
What’s opening and closing across the country this week
- The big Alberta theatres are kicking off their 2022-2023 seasons this week with the Billie Holiday musical Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, opening at Theatre Calgary on Friday (to Oct. 2), and a stage adaptation of the film Network, beginning previews at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre (Sept. 17 to Oct. 9).
- Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon is opening its own season with the enduringly popular Irish play Stones in His Pockets (Sept. 14 to Oct. 2).
- Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ont., begins its fall programming with a new production of playwright and podcaster Falen Johnson’s Salt Baby, a semi-autobiographical comedy about a Six Nations woman whose light skin sets her apart from her relatives (Sept. 14 to Oct. 1).
- As Toronto gets ready for the world premiere of Ins Choi’s new comedy Bad Parent next week, Kim’s Convenience, his hit play that became a CBC sitcom, is wrapping up a run at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ont. (closing Sept. 18).
What The Globe and Mail is seeing this week
It’s a quiet week in Toronto theatre as the big film festival continues to take up most of the space on the cultural agenda.
The Shape of Home: Songs in Search of Al Purdy, a song cycle born at Festival Players of Prince Edward County this summer, opens Wednesday at Crow’s Theatre (to Sept. 25). I’ll be seeing it this week and catching up on Uncle Vanya, which my colleague Martin Morrow just made a Critic’s Pick.
Then, on the weekend, I’m planning to fly to Quebec City to finally visit the city’s new $54-million theatre complex, Le Diamant, for the first time – and see Robert Lepage and Ex Machina’s new production of Les Sept branches de la rivière Ōta (Sept.17 to 25). I’ll be writing about that experience soon.
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