(Peter Marks’s article appeared in the Washington Post, 9/8.)
As if you needed another reason in this grotesque political season to contemplate a move to the Great White North, along comes “Come From Away,” a musical packed with so much Canadian goodwill you’ll wonder why an entire province wasn’t awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
That maritime province, Newfoundland, is the benevolent locale of this heartwarming and eager-to-please musical, which had its official opening Wednesday night at Ford’s Theatre. Its most compelling character, in fact, is the place itself, and more to the point, the embracing spirit of a rough-hewn people who opened their arms and homes to 7,000 airline passengers marooned there on one of the worst days in American history, Sept. 11, 2001.
The 15th anniversary of the terrorist acts that resulted in 3,000 deaths in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington — and a fundamental change in the way Americans think about the world — occurs on Sunday. For anyone with even a faint memory of or connection to those events, the musical by the husband-and-wife team of Irene Sankoff and David Hein will reach into a place in your gut you may have wanted left undisturbed. My heart leaped into my mouth several times over the course of the hour and 45 minutes of “Come From Away,” episodes triggered by finely detailed depictions of the stranded passengers’ realizations of the scale of the horrors, and the townfolk’s small but meaningful acts of kindness toward the horde of strangers in their midst.