February 18, 2019

Come From Away: The La Jolla-Born Musical Turned Broadway Hit

When Daytripper Tours sends THREE motor coaches to a performance of a musical all in a single day, you know that musical must be something special – and it was. The musical was Come From Away, which actually had its beginnings not “away,” but very near…at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2015.  Since then, it’s become a huge hit on Broadway and now on a National tour.  I was lucky enough to be the tour manager for one of the three buses and along with driver Luis and 50 passengers, spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Orange County.

After pick ups in El Cajon, Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos and Oceanside, we drove straight through to Costa Mesa.  At the fabulous South Coast Plaza shopping center, some passengers opted for lunch on their own while others joined me at the Claim Jumper restaurant. The food was delicious, and the service excellent, but we were all looking forward to the matinee performance of Come From Away at the neighboring Segerstrom Center for the Arts. We arrived with half an hour to spare as the audience streamed in. This performance was sold out as most if not all of them are. In the lobby were large maps of the country and the world with tiny pins and labels stuck in.  The sign attached said “We all come from away. Where do YOU come from?” and asked us to stick a pin in the place we call home.  It was fascinating to see all the places people come from.

At 2 p.m., the musical began with the pounding rhythms of “Welcome To The Rock.”  The “rock” of course, referring to Newfoundland.  In case you aren’t familiar with the story, it is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland. The characters in the musical are based on (and in most cases share the names of) real Gander residents as well as some of the almost 7000 stranded travelers they housed and fed. The Newfoundlanders called them “the plane people.” There were also nine cats, 11 dogs and two endangered apes.

Many of the stories from Gander have already been told in a book entitled The Day the World Came to Town, a Canadian TV movie and a BBC radio play. But the husband and wife writing team behind Come from Away went one step for further: they chatted with Newfoundlanders and “the plane people” alike, and turned their interviews into a poignant and emotional piece of theater. The musical has been received by audiences and critics as a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate. As my Daytrippers reboarded the bus after the 1:45 show (with no intermission) I heard, “that was the best show ever,” and “that made me feel so good!” Indeed.  As one critic wrote, “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be a better person when you leave the theater.” We are.

– Pat Brown
DayTripper Tour Manager
Tour: Come From Away
Date: February 16, 2019


Categories: Blog