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Come From Away - Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

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by Gemma Regan (subscribe)
Dr Gemma Regan I'm a writer, arts reviewer, a scientist, a UFO researcher and a Radio host for 4ZZZ 102.1FM with my show The Witching Hour exploring the paranormal, conspiracy and the esoteric.
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A musical gem with choreography to rival Busby Berkeley

The sky was the only limit!

The opening night certainly took off when the entire audience simultaneously leapt to their feet cheering and stamping with appreciation! With the book, music and lyrics written by Tony and Grammy nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the Tony-winning director Christopher Ashley for Best Director, and the musical staging Olivier Award winner Kelly Devine, the sky was the only limit!

The highly anticipated Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away has finally landed in Brisbane QPAC with a bang. Two thousand audience members were waiting at the gates eager to board the musical ride of their lives. Come From Away is the true story of how Operation Yellow Ribbon unfurled after the 9/11 attack when all flights were grounded.

A whopping 38 aeroplanes carrying 6,122 passengers plus 473 crew were diverted to land at the little-used Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. While the World focused on New York's Ground Zero, the residents of Gander had the unenviable task of housing, entertaining, feeding and consoling 6,500 exhausted and frightened passengers who could have been on the next plane of terror. Come From Away brilliantly condenses the five days of intense generosity whilst highlighting the logistical nightmare that the small township of Gander was ill-equipped to deal with but came out with flying colours.

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The dynamic energy of the cast and musicians was electric with fifteen musical numbers accompanied by a ten-strong live band. With Gander "the Rock" having a high Irish ancestry, the music was appropriately Celtic. Xani Kolac set a mean pace on the fiddle with bodhrán player Ben Smart and drummer James Davies whipping up the audience into a toe-tapping frenzy. Matthew Horsley had a rack filled with flutes, whistles and Uilleann pipes which were skilfully interchanged mid-song. 
Brilliant musicians!

The simple stage with a revolving floor was all that was required for the audience to be transported to Newfoundland. The twelve cast members rearranged scenery and props seamlessly whilst acting and singing. The choreography of Kelly Devine, was a thing to behold rivalling any Busby Berkeley movie. Chairs and props weaved in and out as each character flawlessly transformed the set from the inside of a plane to a pub whilst singing and dancing. 

What surprised me most was the swing in emotions between each character and how easily the actors transformed from one to another with the addition of a hat or glasses! Not once did I confuse the tender caring Beulah the school principal with the highly-strung plane passenger, both played convincingly by Emma Powell (Les Misérables, Mamma Mia). Zoe Gertz (Camelot, Les Misérables) is the diligent pilot Beverley Bass who took flight with her solo Me and the Sky. The script treats Gander as a microcosm to highlight societal prejudices which tend to surface in stressful or dangerous situations. The contentious issues of discrimination are tackled with the Middle Eastern Kevin (Joseph Naim, Jersey Boys, The Lion King) being condemned and treated with suspicion by some of his fellow passengers because of his religion. However, the various stereotypes were amusing, not derogatory, with carefully crafted one-liners. 

The exuberant cast and musicians displayed incredible stamina for the continuous 1 hour 45-minute show, flying high with oomph and pizazz until their final bow. Come From Away is a poignant and witty musical gem to rival any iconic Broadway show, acting as an emotive memorialisation of the time when the world stood still and air travel was changed forever.

Merch stand full of goodies

There is also a merch stand to suit every budget and a glossy program for $20.
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Why? A poignant and witty musical gem to rival any iconic Broadway show
When: 7.30pm plus some matinees. AUSLAN Sunday, 2 May 2021, 2pm
Phone: 136246
Where: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Cost: $175-85
Your Comment
Sounds like a terrific performance
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|2578) 24 days ago
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