Wednesday 10 April 2019

Come From Away At The Phoenix Theatre London Review

So whilst I might not be fully back into the swing of things with blogging, and I'm not gonna lie, I'm seriously struggling to see how I'm ever going to get my love for it back, it's tradition now that when George and I see a show, I'll post a review on my blog. These theatre posts are some of my favourites to look back on so there was no way I could miss out this time. Our latest trip to London was full of lovely things but of course the highlights for me as always were the shows we went to see, and this time we chose Come From Away and Waitress. My Waitress review will be up soon so keep an eye for that, but for now, let me try and find the words to do the wonderful Come From Away some justice.
outside of the phoenix theatre, come from away sign
So, Come From Away is a pretty new musical. It's been doing well over on Broadway for a few years but it only opened in London in January so there's a high chance you might not have even heard of it yet. And if you haven't, when you find out it's actually about 9/11, you might wonder why someone would want to go and see it, but it's about so much more than that.

'This joyous new musical shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these 'come from aways' into their lives. As uneasiness turned into trust and music soared into the night, gratitude grew into friendships and their stories became a celebration of hope, humanity and unity.
come from away sign and poster collage
Whilst you might think this would just be all doom and gloom, it's actually really uplifting and leaves you on such a high. From my first listen to the cast recording last year, I soon fell in love with it so I was honestly thrilled when it was announced it was transferring to the West End. It's currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre so we got tickets pretty quickly and I'd been counting down the days for months. It's now just over a week since we saw it and I'm still thinking about it. I actually keep struggling to find the words for it because it was just everything a musical should be but more. We've been lucky enough to see several amazing shows over the last few years from Kinky Boots to Hamilton, and more, and they were all going to be pretty tough to beat but this is just special.
First of all the music is incredible. The lyrics, the band, just everything. Each song makes you feel such a range of emotions from upbeat tracks like Welcome To The Rock which gives me goosebumps, to #girlpower Me And The Sky and then songs like Something's Missing which breaks my heart every time. It's a 100 minute show with no interval so it's quite full on, you do literally feel everything and have no time to process it all but I love that. It meant each time you could react, the atmosphere was incredible. There are only 2 times before the end that I can remember where there was pause for applause but that meant by the end as soon as the final song finished and it went dark, there was an instant standing ovation. I've never seen anything like it, and in fact when the band were playing out, the room literally felt like it was shaking. It was insane but so deserved.
welcome to the rock neon sign at the phoenix theatre
On the whole the story is just amazing to watch unfold. When you think of 9/11 you don't often think about the 'smaller' details, like where the stranded planes went, who took them in, how people found out about what had happened, this musical tells you that story. The wonderful people of Gander took in over 7000 people for several days, they fed them, clothed them, gave them a place to stay and supported one another in such a terrible time. In the show you find out the real life story of Beverley Bass who was one of the pilots that day who had to divert her passengers, Nick and Diane Marson who met and fell in love whilst they were in Gander, and just so many more. Surprisingly a lot of good came from this and the way it has been put together just tells their stories perfectly.

So my final point following on from that is the remarkable cast playing these people. My ultimate Elphaba, Rachel Tucker who I first saw in Wicked in 2016 is doing an outstanding job of portraying Captain Beverley Bass, Clive Carter is brilliant from the get-go as Claude the town's mayor, Bob Harms stepped in to play Kevin T and I'm incredibly glad we got to see his portrayal of the role, Emma Salvo nailed the Newfoundland accent, Robert Hands and Helen Hobson were perfect as Nick and Diane and of course the rest of the cast who all just did such an amazing job - Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Mary Doherty, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison and Cat Simmons. Surprisingly it's actually a really funny show and each cast member was hilarious at times but they all also had that ability to within seconds make you want to sob. It had the perfect mix.
view of stage at come from away
This is the view from seats 8 and 9 on row E of the dress circle, so close!
Whenever we go to see a musical, it always ends too quickly but this took not wanting it to end to another level. It makes your face hurt from smiling so much to crying next and by the end I just felt like I'd witnessed something incredible. One of the first things I actually said after the initial 'omg, omg, omg' was 'I need to be a better person'. It's a musical that genuinely makes you want to do some good and make a real difference, and a show that makes you leave feeling like that is pretty special in my eyes.

It's also a show that is a real community. Clearly the cast are having a great time each night and are so fond of one another, but also everyone in the theatre makes you feel so welcome. You walk in and there are maps dotted around for you to put pins in where you live, you get given a free badge when you leave which says 'I'm a Newfoundlander' and even down to the social media teams. They sent kind replies to my tweet about the show and sent the nicest message on Instagram when I said the show had broken me. Little touches like that go such a long way and it really makes you feel as if you're part of something.
map board at come from away and close up of our pin
This review has gone on far longer than I anticipated but I could rave about Come From Away forever. Whether you're into musicals or not, this is genuinely something each person needs to see. It's actually just won Best New Musical at the Olivier Awards too and I couldn't think of another show more deserving. It's heartbreaking yet uplifting and I hope it has a long life in the West End. I'd go back again tomorrow if I could.

Have you seen Come From Away or heard of the show?

Other musical reviews - Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket // Wicked at the London Apollo Victoria Theatre

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Joy Corkery said...

That sounds amazing! I’d love to go to the theatre more but I don’t understand German well enough to justify the price of tickets in Berlin ha.

Debbie said...

I love these posts, and hearing of your reviews, sounds very deep and thoughtful though enjoyable too

Tiffany Timms said...

Thank you! It's definitely an emotional show but really wonderful xx

Rory Carlson said...

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