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♫ Welcome To The Rock If You Come From Away ♪

All the talk about learning to pilot in the current LICD storyline reminds me of one of the best plays I’ve seen in recent memory: Come From Away.

Come From Away is a Broadway musical based on a town in Newfoundland at the Eastern-most point of North America. When transatlantic flight was new, planes leaving Europe needed to refuel basically as soon as they had land under them again, so this tiny town becomes the site of one of the busiest airports in the world. As plane engines became more fuel efficient, Gander’s international airport was used less and then. Then, on September 11th, 2001, a terrorist attack forced the United States to close its air space, leaving a lot of planes in flight with nowhere to land. So this small Maritime town of 7000 people suddenly found itself the destination of 7000 displaced passengers.

It’s a story of dealing with tragedy, hope at a hopeless time, people, identity, trust, and faith.  It’s funnier than you’d expect from a play about 9/11, and does a great job of summarizing the Maritime lifestyle without drifting into parody.

Most of the songs are infectious Canadian folk rock tunes, but there’s a rock ballad towards the end of act 2 called Me and the Sky. It’s the reason Ashley’s desire for a piloting license (or drugs, still unsure). One of the pilots diverted to Gander was Captain Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines commercial plane. In the play, Captain Bass stands in for all the pilots and delivers some exposition about planes and the state of the air space. However, she gets a solo song about falling in love with planes and the idea of piloting as a child, and her journey overcoming prejudice and resistance to become a pilot, only for terrorists to use a plane to attack her country and get her grounded. It’s a powerful song and although it barely touches on Gander, it exactly matches the shifting tones of the play and the suddenness of how one day changed the world.

Highly recommend Come From Away to anyone who has a chance to see it.

To learn more about this amazing play and fascinating place, you should check out this episode of the 99% Invisible podcast.