Thursday, November 29, 2018

review - Come From Away

CRITIC's PICK
Come From Away
Book, Lyrics and Music by Irene Sankoff and David Hein
directed by Christopher Ashley
musical staging by Kelly Devine
music supervison by Ian Eisendrath
Ahmanson Theatre
through January 6

It's hardly ordinary for a musical to have it all. Come From Away is one of these extraordinary musical ventures that has a heartpounding score, dynamic true story, brilliant direction by Christopher Ashley and an incredible 12 member ensemble who give new meaning to ensemble playing. Now onstage at the Ahmanson through January 6, 2019, Come From Away should be at the very top of your must see list.

Book writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein show what happened when 38 planes were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. Because of the New York and Washington bombings, no one  could enter the US. 7000 passengers from across the globe who were aboard the 38 planes were put into shelters for 5 days while the leaders of Gander supervised and literally fed, cleaned and tried to comfort them. Sankoff aznd Hein have also written the passionately surging music and lyrics. I have never seen such an even and steady flow of dialogue to song and back in a show. Lyrics and words blend together as if in one continuously smooth monologue/ It is so well coordinated by both writers/composers that you are pulled in, held onto and never allowed to let go.


Director Ashley wondrously moves at ultra fast pace, along with Kelly Divine's musical staging, the 12 actors around the stage with 12 chairs - all completely different from one another - being set up in different configurations to show the interior of one of the planes, the airfield, a local school, shelter, mayoral offices or a local bar. It's amazing to watch the actors one second be the inhabitants of Gander and the next the strangers on a plane who have not slept in over 24 hours and are worried to death about what will happen in their immediate future

All of the ensemble are triple threat performers: Andrew Samonky, Nick Duckart, Julie Johnson, Danielle K. Thomas, Megan McGinnis, Chamblee Ferguson, James Earl Jones II, Kevin Carolan, Harter Clingman, Becky Gulsvig, Christine Toy Johnson and Emily Walton, all of whom play various roles. Each has his or her turn in the spotlight but it is hard to forget especially Gulsvig "Me and the Sky" with her ode to women pilots and to all female role models. Nor is it easy to forget Samonsky as Kevin T and Duckart as Kevin J when they find out that other gays exist in this forsaken place and exclaim one of the funniest passages in the script, "We somehow ended up in the gayest town in Newfoundland...there must be something in the water." And one of the homophobic rednecks replies, "That's why I only drink the beer." Another sad but memorable character is Hannah and Thomas is defintely a standout as she tries to hunt down her firefighter son in NYC. And...as animal rescuer Bonnie McGinnis adds so much care and support.

Let's pay homage to the great creative team: set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley and sound by Gareth Owen, all of whom create a wondrous spectacle through artistic simplicity.


If I had only one show to see, it would be Come From Away. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day in 2001, but to visualize and feel the impact on 7000 different people in Gander with a real sense of community involvement adds special appreciation. Why Come From Away did not win the Tony for Best Musical boggles my mind!

5 out of 5 stars
www.centertheatregroup.org

(photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

seniors


Seniors often get a bad rap. Once you have passed the age of youth and beauty, you are put out to pasture as useless and unappealing. I beg to differ. Seniors have great value and continue to plant seeds for future generations.

There are many seniors in the public eye who have kept themselves abreast of the latest fads and styles and still appeal to all age groups. Let's talk Betty White, in her nineties and still looking and acting like a pretty fifty year-old. She's funny, loves animals and is absolutely charming. Remember George Burns? He was a great comedian and won an Oscar well into his eighties.

It does not matter if you are not a celebrity. I read in this morning's paper that a seventy-five year-old man saved a kitten from a tree and returned it to its owner. Obviously, in great physical condition, he climbed up and down the tree. And then had the intelligence and stamina to seek out the owner by knocking on every door of every house on the street until he found where little Scottie belonged. He, of course, refused any monetary reward. He believes it is the duty of every citizen to keep up with the concerns of the community and to give of one's self with pride and honor

If you want further proof that seniors are a valuable part of our society, look to your ancestors and see how they had it tough, but through a cautious plan of survival made it through and paved the way for others to follow.