Come From Away, the newest musical at La Jolla Playhouse, tells the touching true story of the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada which double in population for five days when over 30 planes were diverted to the island after all planes were rerouted on September 11, 2001. The story of 9,000 stranded travelers spending almost a week in this strange land full of friendly people is so vibrant and ripe for telling that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been made into a feature film or play before now.
I was a senior in high school in San Diego, CA on September 11, 2001. I went to school that day and all we did was watch the news in every class while most of my teachers cried or frantically tried to call family in New York. My dad watched CNN nonstop for weeks. The videos of the towers falling are seared into my mind like every other American of a certain age. I knew a couple people who lived in New York City at the time but I didn’t personally know anyone who died or was related to someone who died. As an American and a human of course I was affected but it was a different type of pain and sadness than most of the film, theater, and other artistic takes on the event have depicted throughout the years. As a bystander grappling with events taking place 3,000 miles away, I always felt slightly guilty for not being more involved. Come From Away is one of the best depictions of the confusion, panic, and helplessness felt during the days following 9/11 from the perspective of people not at ground zero, or New York, or even on American soil.