On September 11, 2001, the air-space over the United States was closed after two planes flew into the the Twin Towers in New York City, another into The Pentagon, and a fourth (headed for D. C.) into a field near near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Thirty-eight planes were diverted from their original paths and forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. The airport at Gander is larger than makes sense in terms of the size and population of Gander. It’s a relic from the pre-jetplane era -- when flying to or from Europe commercial and private flights stopped there to refuel.
The 38 planes that landed on 9/11 carried passengers from all over the world. Scared, confused, and all-but cut off from their loved-ones, the accidental visitors - or “come-from-aways” as the Newfoundlanders call them - nearly doubled the population of the region for the better part of a week. The locals opened their doors, pantries, hearts, and minds until the airspace was reopened.
Those friendships - formed in upsetting and stressful circumstances - are the heart at the center of Come From Away - a new musical now running on Broadway The Schoenfeld Theatre.
The book, music, and lyrics are by married Canadian writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein - who created the show by interviewing the real people involved in the events of that day and week. The show is directed by Christopher Ashley with musical staging by Kelly Devine. The cast of 12 plays both - and various - Gander-ites and Plane people.
Cast member Sharon Wheatley joins us now. Her previous Broadway credits include Avenue Q, Les Misérables, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera. She is the author of the memoir, Til The Fat Girl Sings: From an Overweight Nobody to a Broadway Somebody.
The Come from Away cast recording is available from The Musical Company.