Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – Oh, live theater, I have missed you so!
It was about a year ago that I last enjoyed a live musical in Melbourne. Then the world turned upside down… wait, whoops, wrong musical.
Anyway, Come From Away is the story of the people in a small town in Canada called Gander, which took in 7,000 people whose flights were diverted because of the 9/11 attacks.
Although I had seen the show before, we recently went again because my grandma was unable to go with us the first time around. This time, the show felt different.
The audience was more interactive, laughing along and cheering more, and it felt like a triumphant return to the theater for all involved. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, theaters closed down at the end of March last year, and only reopened again here in January.
Theater lovers hadn’t been to see a live show on stage for a very long time, and were probably feeling grateful to be in a theater at all.
Before the show, one of the ushers mentioned that the theater we were in, which was at 75 % capacity, was one of only five theaters in the world operating with that much of an audience.
Although the other four were not mentioned by name, one would have had to have been the Princess Theatre, which was just down the road from us, and the other three were no doubt in other Australian cities.
Come From Away not only has catchy, amazing songs that you can’t help but sing along to, but it is also a very clever show.
Although it is about something as unpleasant as 9/11, it doesn’t focus on the bad things about that day. It focuses more on the town of Gander, which banded together to help the stranded passengers, and the camaraderie and friendship created during the five days that the passengers stayed in Gander.
The performers and staging were also very clever, too.
There were only 12 cast members, but with a simple change of shirt or addition of a hat they were able to transform into multiple characters and it’s not weird at all.
The staging was simple, yet well done.
The stage itself wasn’t very big, so the team had to use the space wisely. It’s amazing what a few trees, tables and chairs can do to completely change the scene on stage, because that is all that was used on stage during the entire show. For example, a chair was used as everything from a seat at a café to a plane seat to even part of a lookout.
So while some people may find the subject matter a bit touchy, most people will really enjoy this show. I highly recommend it.
Alyce Collett is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International
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