A busy and expensive time of year for me with Nikki’s birthday and her (our) 25th wedding anniversary in quick succession and part of the celebrations, we are set take in a West End musical and this holds some trepidation for me.
You see, not really my thing, musicals. Too formulaic. Big opening number (usually, very loud and shouty) to get our attention followed by too often, rather pointless songs and without a discernible tune for my tone-deaf ear at any rate and then the big rousing shouty number to finish things up.
We have booked tickets (er, Nikki has) and not for a known quantity, either. Not a Phantom in site, or a Joseph, not Mamma Mia, Hamilton or Mormon – so what then, a new musical!
“What”s it called?” I ask, a day or so out.
“What is what called?”
“The play. The thing we are seeing at the theatre.”
“Er…” She pauses to think. “Erm…”
How can she not know? Surely, this is not a good sign.
“Come away with me.”
“No. That’s not it. Erm… Maybe, something like, Come Over Here… look, I’m not sure. But definitely, something about coming somewhere, anyway.”
“How can you not know what it’s called?” I ask, not unreasonably.
“I can’t remember what it’s called. But it’s about 9/11…”
A musical about the world’s biggest ever terrorist atrocity. Oh God.
Knowing me well (25 years, remember), Nikki picks up on this and is keen to reassure me. ‘It’s got great reviews’ but this is little comfort since critics and I agree largely on nothing.
Once again, Nikki picks up on this and so she opts for personal endorsements and much closer to home.
“Steve loved it.”
This is not much consolation either. Not if we are thinking of the same Steve because the Steve I am thinking of is an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing and even refers to it as Strictly.
It is the same Steve btw.
I always enjoy the excitement of entering an auditorium and particularly so when I am not expected to take to the stage myself. The Phoenix Theatre – a little along from Leicester Square, one of the many West End stages I have not yet managed to grace in my stop-start stand-up career.
Some good news before curtain up – only one act – we are set to go straight through with no interval, which is great. Down by 9pm – home by 10 – perfect for a man of my advancing years.
And btw – Come From Away – is the title. A silly name because it is so difficult to recall but more of this later.
And at 7.30 – the place is rammed and so it begins…
A shouty loud number to get things underway. Who knew? So, things do not bode well.
There follows 90 minutes of a dozen actors on stage with a minimalist set, collaborating with the audience and our imaginations to recreate the chaos of what happens when hundreds of flights are diverted from across the US to land in Newfoundland and the immediate days thereafter.
Yes. This is it. Nothing more. 7000 people unexpectedly descending from the skies to overwhelm a small rural community. All with just a dozen actors with little more than a few chairs.
During these 90 minutes, there are many songs – none of which are sufficiently memorable so that I can hum them now. Included are a few moments of levity but only an occasional laugh-out-moment and yet by the 90th minute… like everyone else in the theatre, I was on my feet, clapping, stamping and cheering the brilliance of what I had just seen.
It is a remarkable experience – completely exhilarating. Rather cleverly, it avoids mention of the twin towers completely – unnecessary perhaps, since we all have graphic memories of our own and don’t need reminding of a day where everyone over a certain age, recalls exactly where they were and what they were doing.
This is a true story of humanity and beauty. What we lost that day and what these protagonists gained – which because of this remarkable play, we can now share in also.
Come From Away – a pesky title to remember but appropriate since this is the phrase of the local Newfoundlanders to describe visitors of people to their remote idyll.
A poster to promote the musical features a quote by the journalist, Nick Curtis – “THE IS THE SHOW THAT WE ALL NEED RIGHT NOW”
A clever reference to the heart of the show and the unsteady and uncertain political times that we are amidst.
I’ve met Nick Curtis. He has been to my house, no less. A while ago now, to interview Tom when The Impossible was released. The piece he wrote was generous and kind and I recall vividly how it ended. “Tom Holland. Good actor. Nice kid.”
I agreed with Nick then and I agree with him now.
This is a wonderful play – and today being September 11th, this is a timely date to post this blog.
26 thoughts on “I stand corrected…”
I’ve heard of that musical and might be seeing it! Definitely will try see it after reading this
Thank you for your blog on this solemn day. My son choose to sign up for the Army on his 18th birthday. 17 days later, 9/11 happened. Of course all I could think of is, we are going to war. My son was ready to serve his country, but he needed to complete his training. He wasn’t deployed until October 2005. Because he scored so high in his marksmanship skills, he was a sniper. Thankfully he returned safely on August 2007. On a happy note, my nephew was born on that awful day, and he is a blessing. I read a book to my first graders every year called “September 12th We knew everything would be alright”!
Do love musicals, so many that I’d love to see one day… when I can afford it! For now I’ll stick to the productions made by my mum’s theatre group, planning to one day join it myself!
Wow. How could this annoy tom?
not the post – the picture in my story!
I just want to say Dom, I have heard of this play but sadly I have never seen it. I already have anxiety, however being an American, my anxiety and my emotional mentality is not doing all that great today. But when I read this just now, I feel a little more at ease. Don’t know why, seems a bit odd, but I do and I just wanted to thank you. It means more than you know, knowing today is being remembered internationally and not just by Americans. So thank you, and Happy Anniversary.
I always enjoy your blogs Dom! They’re refreshing to me, thanks
I will try to see a musical someday!!!
I’ve been reading your blogs for a few months now, thank you for the laughs and smiles. Thank you for opening a window into your life like that. I’m slowly working on eclipsed. Not been to a musical… This might tempt me but I’d need a push/pull… Glad you enjoyed yourself. I was waking up for uni in california when the radio mentioned the first plane in the tower. Rough wake up call for sure. Hove now. Big difference huh. And happy anniversary 🙂
I’ve never heard of the play, but now I want to see it. Thanks for the recommendation!
As an American, I sometimes forget that the events of September 11 had an impact on everyone, not just Americans. I think we all need to be reminded of that once in a while.
As always, I enjoyed your blog post. Happy anniversary, and thanks for sharing.
I love reading your blogs Dom! Every time I read them they always put a smile on my face. Also, happy anniversary to you and Nikki!
I love reading your blogs Dom! Every time I read them they put a huge smile on my face. Can’t wait to read the next one! Also, happy anniversary to you and Nikki!
So at the beginning of this blog you said you aren’t a fan of theatre but aside from Tom’s work, what did you think of the script, songs and plot in Billie Eliot. Just to clarify I am not asking were you proud of Tom but if you liked Billie Elliot in general.
Happy anniversary to you and Mrs H.
A musical about 9/11 – having a friend who is a firefighter in NY who lost 35 friends and colleagues on that awful day, I was rather perturbed by this! However, reading your post it sounds intriguing and I am now thinking of booking to see it if possible. We visited NY in 2002 when Ground Zero was a stark, bleak hole in the ground. We are returning in October to see amongst other things the memorial.
A very enjoyable piece Dom.
However, I am a bit confused on how they managed to turn 9/11 into a musical.
As a New Yorker myself, today has had a very somber tone.
I don’t like 9/11 and think of musicals. Just a thought.
Anyway, the piece was very well written. Wouldn’t expect any less.
So glad you enjoyed the show. As a Canadian I am well aware of the story of the kind folks in Gander, and was blown away by the show here in Toronto. Happy Anniversary to you and Nikki.
Omg, I’m crying, this blog got to my soul, you really are a great father and I’m sure you’re Tom’s example. Great father, great children.
Thank you for this review, I have been considering seeing this when it comes to Minnesota, but knew nothing about it. I’m glad you enjoyed it since you didn’t necessarily want to go.
The other day I was watching an interview with Tom. He mentioned that you have been a tremendous father, husband, friend, and person in general. I have a feeling you’re one of the best…since you will go to Plays to make your wife happy. Happy Anniversary! Here’s to 25 more!
I highly recommend watching the documentary. One of the best I have ever seen. It has alot of film footage of the actual events as they played out. Towards the end it explains how the musical came to be.
https://www.crave.ca/search?q=you are here#/movie/43528
I just finished Eclipsed and have been following your blog since you updated it so I should have known that when you started out in that confident tone about your opinion of musicals, it would change in the end. But I was so busy wholly and completely agreeing with you on the subject that I didn’t see it coming. So I was pleasantly surprised and am now interested in seeing Come From Away (correct title, right??)
I was holding my breath as I read your initial comments. Being Canadian, I am very proud of the community that hosted so many on those days after the attacks. I am so glad that you enjoyed it. You might like to watch the actual documentary about how this became a musical. It shows all of the original key players telling their version of those days as well as the accounts of the original travellers.
On 9/11 many of us in the U.S. get wrapped up in our feelings and reflect on the people lost, the lives impacted and our societal expectations that underwent a seismic shift. It’s nice to be reminded of the outpouring of support from around the world that happened also. It felt very personal at the time and it still does.
My mind is absolutely blown that this musical exists, but particularly that it exists in a country not party to the actual story. (Apparently there are also shows in Toronto and Melbourne as well as New York…) I suppose this is one of those examples of there being more that brings us together than there is to separate us.
Glad you enjoyed the musical. Perhaps try another, something lighter? Think of it like candy floss – pretty and amusing but not something to make a regular diet of.
I swiped up after I read your Instagram post that you had blogged another topic that would annoy Tom. Why would this topic annoy him? It’s a topic I hope would not annoy anyone! Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the show despite your aversion to musicals. And Happy Anniversary!
not the topic – but my pictures of self on instagram stories that annoy him – and so I will keep doing em.
Love the blogs you do still would really love you to read my inbox though
I love Come From Away, well I love the music. I can’t quite afford to see it yet. At first, I was unsure how 9/11 would somehow manage to be a musical, but the story itself of the Newfoundlanders welcoming everyone in is beautiful and shows the impact of community. The Phoenix theatre is beautiful as well, but isn’t too big so the minimalistic set works well. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it 🙂