The cast of Come from Away: Kendra Kassebaum, Jenn Colella, Sharon Wheatley, Lee MacDougall, Chad Kimball, Rodney Hicks, Joel Hatch, Petrina Bromley, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Geno Carr, and Caesar Samayoa. Pic: Mark Seliger
The cast of Come from Away: Kendra Kassebaum, Jenn Colella, Sharon Wheatley, Lee MacDougall, Chad Kimball, Rodney Hicks, Joel Hatch, Petrina Bromley, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Geno Carr, and Caesar Samayoa. Pic: Mark Seliger

Come From Away Wins Best Musical In UK

Come From Away was named best new musical at Britain's Olivier Awards, the Brit equivalent of Broadway's Tony Awards. The play also took trophies for sound and outstanding achievement in music and choreography at a ceremony held last night (Sunday) at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Opening on Broadway two years ago on Feb. 19, Come From Away had grossed US128,043,890 as of March 31, 2019–selling 938,426 seats.

The musical set in the week following in Gander, NL in the week following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The characters in the musical are based on (and in most cases share the names of) real Gander residents as well as some of the 7,000 stranded travelers they housed and fed.

The idea for the show was first conceived by Michael Rubinoff, a Toronto lawyer, theatre producer, and Associate Dean of Visual and Performing Arts at Sheridan College in Oakville. After approaching various writing teams about the project, Rubinoff attracted Irene Sankoff and David Hein, whose work he knew from their 2009 musical, My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, which was a hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival and later picked up by Mirvish Productions.

In 2011, Sankoff and Hein visited Gander on the tenth anniversary of the attacks to interview locals and returning passengers. The couple translated some stories directly to the musical while others were merged for story purposes. Rubinoff used their initial script to produce a 45-minute workshop version for the Canadian Music Theatre Project, part of the Sheridan College Music Theatre Performance Program, in 2012. The workshop was sufficiently successful that Rubinoff invited Sankoff and Hein to finish writing it for a full production at Sheridan in 2013, as part of the college's regular theatrical season. The full production, directed by Brian Hill, was an artistic success, but Rubinoff was unable to attract a Canadian producer for further development.

In the meantime, Goodspeed Musicals of East Haddam, Connecticut, included the show in its workshop program. The National Alliance for Musical Theatre in New York selected it as a showcase presentation in fall 2013, where a performance, also directed by Brian Hill, led to the show being optioned by Junkyard Dog Productions, the production company behind Memphis and First Date.

The musical opened in previews on Broadway on February 18, 2017 and officially opened on March 12, 2017 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The show has been playing to standing-room-only audiences ever since in the theatre.

Another Canadian production opened in a sold-out, four-week run in Winnipeg at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in January 2018. The production began performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto on February 13, 2018 and continues today at the Elgin Theatre in the city.

The musical started its US national tour of more than 25 cities in October 2018 at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

The musical ran at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland from December 2018 to January 2019, before transferring to the Phoenix Theatre in London's West End from January 30, 2019 with a British cast.

An Australian production is scheduled to open at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne in July 2019. -- Sources: Broadway World, Wikipedia, BBC

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