One of my wife’s favorite shows is Come From Away. We first saw it at the Ahmanson back in 2018. She loves the music, she loves the message, she loves the humor. So when it appeared as a bonus show in the Ahmanson 2020-2021 season, we planned to go. Then COVID hit. Luckily, it was in the reworked Ahmanson 2021-2022 season We saw it last night. The magic is still there.
Seeing a show for a second time is much easier for me. This is especially true when about 70% of the cast and orchestra are the same. I can just point you to the previous writeup, and provide a few updates.
The story is unchanged. For those unfamiliar, this is the story of the community of Gander Newfoundland, which doubled in size when 9/11 occurred and planes from all over the world were diverted there. Come From Away (CFA) is the story of the people of Gander, and the people on the planes. It is a remarkably uplifting story that leaves you feeling good.
[And just like last time we saw this, it is paired with Dear Even Hansen (DEH). Last time, DEH is before; this time it follows. DEH, although popular, is much more problematic. CFA is centered around a tragedy, and how people find hope and family in it. DEH is centered around a lie, and how the hope from that lie eventually comes crashing down. I much prefer CFA.
The cast is essentially the same as the 2018 touring company. Here’s a paste of my cast list then, with changes noted:
- Kevin Carolan (★FB, FB, TW) — Claude, and others
- Harter Clingman (FB) — Oz, and others
- Nick Duckart (FB) — Kevin J., Ali, and others
- Chamblee Ferguson (FB) — Nick, Doug, and others*
Becky Gulsvig (★FB, TW)Marika Aubrey (★FB, TW, IG) — Beverly Annette, and others. [Marika was a swing in 2018]
- Julie Johnson (FB) — Beulah and others
- Christine Toy Johnson (★FB, TW) — Diane and others
- James Earl Jones II — Bob and others
Megan McGinnis (★FB, TW)Sharone Sayegh (★FB, TW, IG) — Bonnie and others Andrew Samonsky (FB, TW)Jeremy Woodard (IG) — Keven T., Garth, and others
- Danielle K. Thomas (FB) — Hannah and others
Emily Walton (FB)Julia Knitel (IG) — Janice and others
Swings were: Jenny Ashman (IG, TW);
Julie Garnyé (★FB, TW); Marika Aubrey (★FB, TW) [Moved to Principal]; Jane Bunting (FB), Amelia Cormak (IG), Adam Halpin (TW), Michael Brian Dunn (FB), and Aaron Michael Ray (FB, TW), Kilty Reidy (IG, TW), and Brandon Springman (IG, TW).
As you can see, the bulk of the cast was the same. Performances were excellent from the ensemble.
Much of the on-stage orchestra was the same as well. Again, here’s a diff from 2018:
The band consisted of:
Cynthia Kortman Westphal (FB) Cameron Moncur [Music Director, Conductor, Keyboard, Accordion, Harmonium]; Isaac Alderson (FB) [Whistles, Irish Flute, Uilleann Pipes]; Kiana June Weber (★FB) [Fiddle]; Adam Stoler (FB) Billy Bivona (IG, FB) [Electric / Acoustic Guitar]; Matt Wong (FB) Martin Howley (IG) [Acoustic Guitar, Mandolins, Bouzouki]; Max Calkin (FB) Sean Rubin (FB) [Electric / Acoustic Bass]; Steve Holloway (FB) [Bodhran, Percussion]; and Ben Morrow (FB) [Drums / Percussion].
As with the actors, much of the band is the same. However, I’d say that this time the band has gotten stronger. I hadn’t realized last time that Kiana June Weber (★FB) was part of one of my favorite Celtic groups: Gaelic Storm. She’s married to orchestra-mate Martin Howley (IG), who is new for 2022 and is one of the long-time members of the Celtic band We Banjo 3 — another favorite group. Isaac Alderson (FB) is also part of the Celtic music scene, being part of the band The Yanks. Steve Holloway (FB) also plays on loads of Celtic albums. So this touring band has loads of Celtic talent, which they show off during numbers such as “Screech In” and the jam session after the final bows. This is one of those rare shows when I can say that you should see the show not only for the great story and great performances, but for the rocking Celtic band!
Production, design, and the supporting team (stage mangers) are unchanged from 2018.
Come From Away is at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) for only one more week (it closes June 12). Go see it — you’ll be uplifted by this show, and will love the music. Tickets are available through the Ahmanson Box Office. Discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.
Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Actors Co-op (FB), 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.
For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. The remainder of June sees Pretty Woman at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), as well as Tom Paxon at McCabes. I thought we might make the Hollywood Fringe Festival , but with my ear problems and Karen being in a wheelchair — plus fuel costs — we’re missing it this year. July brings Moulin Rouge at Broadway in Hollywood (FB) [Pantages], Dear Evan Hansen at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), Newsies at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), and Freestyle Love Supreme back at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). August is quieter, with just The Prom at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Lastly (for this look ahead), September brings Oklahoma the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and Jagged Little Pill at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), although they are on the same day so I’ll be shifting one show. September may also bring Andrew Lippa’s version of The Wild Party at the Morgan Wixson Theatre. This was a show I had been planning to see before the COVID shutdown, so I’m putting it in the “part of our subscriptions” list. There may also be some Hollywood Bowl stuff, depending on how my wife is doing.
As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-Lemons, Footlights, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, On Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!