Did critics think Come From Away was a soaring success?
The Tony Award-winning musical had its opening night last night
James Fitzgerald, WhatsOnStage
"Irene Sankoff and David Hein's musical Come From Away tells that beautiful tale of lost travellers finding hospitality in what seems a totally unexpected place: Gander, Newfoundland. A hugely uplifting watch – and a hit on Broadway – the show is also a parable many will see as fit for our times. It valorises the small-islander who opens their front door to perfect strangers – or in Newfoundland parlance, "come from aways"."
"But it hardly seems fair to single out individuals in what is a stellar team effort (in a show which is, of course, all about the importance of team efforts). Whether always in touch with the realities of the world or not, Come From Away is wonderfully sung and produced. Most importantly of all, it has a feelgood factor that simply doesn't let-up. In divided times, that's a powerful antidote indeed."
Tim Bano, The Stage
"The ensemble is so skilled and so tight that it feels like a whole community in itself up there on stage. Almost all of the narrative is addressed by the characters directly to the audience, like talking heads in some kind of musical documentary. The cast switch between playing locals and visitors, hammering home that essential message – and who the hell cares if it's corny – that wherever we're from, we're all human."
"Cat Simmons and Jenna Boyd are brilliant as the woman waiting for news of her son, a Manhattan firefighter, and the local woman who comforts her; there's good work from Helen Hobson and Robert Hands as the middle-aged Texan woman and the British oil executive who meet and fall in love; Clive Carter shines as the mayor trying to co-ordinate everything from different languages to different religions to working out what to cook. Rachel Tucker gets the show's one big number, the story of how her character Beverley became a pilot, and she delivers it in a way that is utterly transfixing."
Alice Saville, Time Out
"It feels so organic that you almost don't notice how carefully it's been crafted. Individual stories are woven through rousing, foot-stomping, all-company choruses. Actors swap between playing locals and incomers with a fluidity that shows it's just chance separating the two. It makes you look inwards to ask: what would I do in their place?"
"Come from Away creates a kind of temporary utopia: a little world where (almost) everyone is forced, by earth-shattering events hundreds of miles away, to come together and build a community based on principles of generosity and care. It's seductive in its resolute unsexiness, and its gentle uncynical warmth spills off the stage, extending a hug to an audience that wouldn't dream of turning it away."
Dominic Maxwell, The Times
"The music is a kind of Gaelic folk-rock. It's gorgeous and propulsive, and helps lend the show its heart the size of Canada. The director, Christopher Ashley, and the set designer, Beowulf Boritt, create an adaptable, evocative environment that enables the story to keep moving forwards. A singsong in a bar, say, turns into the cramped confines of an aeroplane cabin with just the deft moving of some chairs."
"It could easily turn sappy. Yet we see flare-ups of prejudice and pain that help the show to earn its good view of humanity. It calls for quicksilver, charismatic acting and singing. It gets it from this versatile cast of 12. It's an evening that, frankly, gets everything right. Did I stand and cheer at the end? I was still standing and cheering on the train home."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
"It is musically vigorous and excellently staged but, although I may be in a minority of one, I found something bludgeoning about its relentless celebration of civic virtue."
"In a 12-strong ensemble, there are also striking performances from Rachel Tucker as a trailblazing female pilot, Robert Hands and Helen Hobson as loners who find love in unlikely circumstances and Jenna Boyd and Cat Simmons as two women united by maternal anxiety. The show could hardly be better done even if, as a work of art, I found it lacking in complexity and argument."
Paul Taylor, The Independent
"There is, to be sure, a lot to like and admire in the proceedings. The choral singing has such fervour that your body resonates like a struck tuning-fork. There are strong Celtic connections in this part of the world, and the foot-stamping music resounds to the sociable swirl of uilleann pipes, penny whistle, fiddle and skin-drum."
"Drama thrives on conflict and this has very little of that. We're to take it that not a single local felt iffy about helping the sudden influx of outsiders. And no one seems to grow more complex over time. (I'm not doubting the veracity of any of this. It's based on extensive interviews.) Being the poster people for exemplary open-heartedness must have its strains."