The Tony’s Telecast (aka Showqueen Superbowl) is tonight and for Best Musical, it comes down to Dear Evan Hansen vs Come From Away. They are said to be battling neck and neck. If I were to choose between the two, my vote would probably go to ‘Come From Away.’ Written be Irene Sankoff and David Hein and directed by Christopher Ashley, this show is small, homey, and comfortable, but shows kindness bigly and hugely. It is set on 9/11, in Gander, Newfoundland where planes landed after air space got closed that Tuesday. This musical, with songs also by Sankoff and Hein, shows how the people of Gander and their neighboring villages welcomed these thousands of people with open arms, providing shelter, clothes and feeding them those days before the air space reopened. It also shows the interpersonal relationships between the stranded passengers, how love formed, and for some, how love dissipated.
It’s a touching show, and damn it if I didn’t end up with tears in my eyes. I am always wary of anything that ‘exploits’ 9/11, but this is a story of any tragedy. The catalytical conflict could have been anything, and it just happened to be 9/11. I was there in New York City that day and at times feel protective of it, and this musical stirred a lot of the emotions I felt that day. The music is down to earth and folksy, but it has a sense of humor that was unexpected and effective. I was a little wary of the score but liked some of the songs, especially Jenn Collela’s song about how the world changed its innocence that day. (The score reminds me a lot of ‘Once’) The messages ring truer today, as we struggle to keep xenophobia in check. I know I am rooting for Collela tonight, but the whole ensemble is fantastic as well, and Chad Kimball has that star quality that I couldn’t help but follow my eyes to wherever he is on stage – that’s a star if there ever was one. I know this show is a hot ticket nowadays, but I hope it does more – enlighten people on their bias and prejudices. If one bigot from a red state learns a lesson from this show each night, then that’s already an achievement far greater than a Tony Award.