‘Come From Away’ Tells Story of Compassion

Jenn Colella and several other members of the cast of Come From Away perform onstage. Colella is gesturing as a spotlight shines on her.
Jenn Colella and the cast of Come From Away. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

In the uncertain hours immediately following the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration halted all commercial and general aviation air traffic, clearing the airspace of an estimated 4,500 planes. More than 6,500 passengers on 38 planes were suddenly diverted to the remote Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland.

For five days, residents of that small town provided food, shelter and support to weary and worried international travelers. They offered such warmth and generosity that many friendships between residents and their guests continue today.

The story is now told in the Canadian musical, “Come From Away,” which officially opens on Broadway this Sunday.

The cast from Come From Away. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

“It was only natural for us to look after people who [were] in need of love and compassion, and food and clothing,” Claude Elliott, who has been mayor of Gander since 1996, told the CBC. “Our people today still don’t understand why it’s such a big deal because it was … things that we do naturally.”

Elliott saw an earlier production of the play in Washington DC.

“It’s showing the goodness and the kindness of what people had done,” Elliott said. It was “an act of kindness that we never thought would get to the world stage.”

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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