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Warmth, compassion and the kindness of strangers in a strange place. An inspiring hit musical is coming to Canberra to share the remarkable true story of the small town that welcomed the world.
On 11 September 2001, when two planes hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and a third hit the west side of the Pentagon, the world stopped.
American airspace was closed for the first time in history, and 38 planes carrying nearly 7,000 people from over 100 countries were redirected to the small island town of Gander, in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
As the world struggled to come to terms with their new post-9/11 reality, the population of the remote Canadian town was almost doubled and over the five days that followed, lives were changed forever with bonds formed, friendships made and love blossoming in the wake of tragedy.
Now the hit musical Come From Away, based on these real-life events in Gander, is coming to Canberra from Thursday 3 February, to tell a story of unity and kindness in adversity, capturing the generosity and hospitality of the small community of Gander who invited the “come from aways’” into their homes.
Performer Zoe Gertz, who plays pivotal character Beverley Bass, says the show and the true story it tells is extraordinary.
“It’s amazing how many people didn’t know about this because of course, when these events happen, so much of the news and the coverage was about the devastation,” she explains.
“To know that there’s this story that comes along with it, it’s just remarkable.”
Not only telling the stories of the passengers who suddenly found themselves in a strange place with strangers, Come From Away also looks at the stories of the pilots, whose worlds were turned upside down when they were ordered to land unexpectedly in the town.
Captain Beverly Bass was one of them.
“Beverly Bass was the first female captain for American Airlines,” explains Zoe. “Her purpose in the show is to tell not just her story, but the story of all of the pilots that were there that day, the aviation industry as a whole and how it was affected during and shortly after that time.”
“It’s a really interesting perspective…she’s also looking at her whole livelihood and passion for flying and everything being affected by this event.”
As the pilots and passengers remained grounded, the town took the 7000 strangers and made 7000 friends, creating one of the most amazing tales of human kindness that not only inspires people to feel good, but do good.
“I just love how it shows the best of humanity and that even out of a really awful, tragic event like 91/1, that people were still first and foremost wanting to look after each other,” says Zoe.
“And that’s just really beautiful—it really is the very best of humanity.”
Full of original, inventive and exhilarating music, Come From Away as has scooped five Green Room awards, including Best Production and Best Ensemble since its Australian premiere in 2019, along with being voted Ticketmaster’s ‘Ticket of the Year’ by Australian audiences—a testament to the power of the show.
According to Zoe, audiences can expect to leave with a reminder that kindness does exist, even when it feels like the world goes dark.
“It’s just a really beautiful celebration of kindness and of looking after each other, which I think especially Australians have shown that we’re really good at in the last couple of years with the personal sacrifices that we’ve all had to make in terms of lockdowns,” she says.
“I think now audiences are coming to see Come From Away and they’re seeing a little bit of themselves reflected in the story and sometimes what it takes during a really difficult time to look after one another. That’s a really beautiful, full circle thing that’s happening with the show now.”
What: Come From Away
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Circuit,
When: 3-27 February, 2022, Tuesday to Friday 7 pm; Saturday 2 pm and 7 pm; Sunday 2 pm and 6 pm. Website: comefromaway.com.au
Tickets: From $105.00* a handling fee from $5.95 per transaction applies