5 reasons to see ‘Come From Away’ at Schuster

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The inspirational, rousing, humorous and uplifting 2017 musical “Come From Away” receives a crowd-pleasing local premiere at the Schuster Center through April 10 courtesy of Dayton Live’s Premier Health Broadway Series.

A relatable tale of community, diversity and hopefulness, this breezy one-act, written by Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein, examines the real-life circumstances that occurred in Gander, Newfoundland on Sept. 11, 2001. Following the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 38 planes were diverted to Gander Airport. Overnight, the town (referred to as the “islanders”) provided food, lodging and other essentials for nearly 7,000 passengers (referred to as the “come from away”) and a few animals stored in cargo.

Sankoff and Hein’s score leaves much to be desired (“Welcome to the Rock” is a strong opener but the majority of other numbers are forgettable). Even so, the central story captivates. Here are five reasons why you should see this show.

Christopher Ashley’s Tony Award-winning direction

Storytelling is vital to this production, and Christopher Ashley, who won the Tony for his expert staging including a turntable, guides a versatile cast of 12 with incredible efficiency and fluidity. With just a quick change of a hat, scarf, shirt or pair of glasses, the cast seamlessly weaves in and out of their multiple roles without missing a beat. Their innate ability to take on what appears to be a considerable challenge with confident ease speaks volumes about Ashley’s astute vision.

Marika Aubrey as pilot Beverley Bass

Portraying Beverley Bass, the first female American Airlines pilot, Marika Aubrey offers a soaring rendition of “Me and The Sky,” detailing Beverley’s determination to climb the professional ladder in spite of adversity. The fact that Aubrey establishes Beverley’s no-nonsense authority long before her signature moment arrives is equally beneficial.

Explore‘Come From Away’ inspires, uplifts

Jeremy Woodard and Aaron Michael Ray as a gay couple forever changed

Delightful duo Jeremy Woodard (Kevin Tuerff) and Aaron Michael Ray (Kevin Jung) bring charm, laughter and heartbreak to their portrayal of a gay couple whose relationship shifts in the aftermath of 9/11. The couple gives credence to the lyric, “I don’t feel like the me from yesterday.” Woodard also fuels the poignancy of “Prayer,” in which the Bible serves as a meaningful tool to break the language barrier.

Aaron Michael Ray as a passenger facing prejudice

In addition to his winning rapport with Woodard, Ray dramatically shines as a Muslim passenger ostracized as The Other who ultimately undergoes a degrading strip search. Ray’s work wonderfully addresses the cultural fears which arose at the time amid great uncertainty.

James Earl Jones II as a believer in neighborly goodwill

Comic relief comes natural to James Earl Jones II as Bob, a passenger extremely doubtful about his surroundings who eventually embraces Gander’s neighborly goodwill, including the removal of their barbecue grills.

HOW TO GO

What: “Come From Away”

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton

When: Through April 10; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $29-$129; Military and group discounts are available.

More info: Call 937-228-3630 or visit daytonlive.org

FYI: The production runs 1 hour and 40 minutes without intermission

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