Chichester and Southampton dates for post-9/11 musical Come From Away

Come From Away (pic by Michael Wharley)Come From Away (pic by Michael Wharley)
Come From Away (pic by Michael Wharley)
Come From Away tells the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada in the wake of 9/11.

It also tells of the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives with open hearts.

The show is at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from April 16-20 and also at Chichester Festival Theatre in November (Nov 18-23, tickets for the Chichester dates will go on sale with the winter season in September).

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The first female American Airlines captain, the quick-thinking town mayor, the mother of a New York firefighter and the eager local news reporter are among the many real characters caught at the start of a moment that changed the course of history. The show explores their stories as a true celebration of hope, humanity and unity.

Kirsty Hoiles, who plays Diane and others, is promising a joyous story and soaring music as spirited locals and global passengers come together to forge friendships that will stay with them forever.

“Everything that happens in the show is based on true characters and true events. Every story – and there are dozens of stories in the show – really did happen. It is based on real events in Newfoundland off the coast of Canada, the most easterly point, in this tiny town called Gander that is next to a huge pre-war airport which is now redundant. On September 11 when American airspace was closed, all the planes that were going across the Atlantic had to turn back to Europe and the others were diverted to Canada. 38 were diverted to this airport and this tiny community of 7,000 or 8,000 people just doubled overnight, and the community had to look after these 7,000 visitors. And they just opened their hearts and met everyone with a full welcome. What happens in the show is incredibly heartwarming.

“It's a story that's famous in Canada, the whole story of what happened, how Canada responded to its neighbour and absorbed all these people.”

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But maybe it's a story less well known elsewhere – until now: “(Show creators) Irene Sankoff and David Hein went out to Newfoundland initially for a week on the tenth anniversary and they interviewed people just to see what material was there for a musical. Instead they stayed for a month, I believe, because there were so many amazing stories to be told.”

The show was created, made its way to Broadway and then over here, along the way winning four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical in London and the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical on Broadway.

Kirsty added: “I saw it in the West End. I was in Mamma Mia at the time but I had friends in the original company and I went and I loved it. It's 100 minutes straight through and the story just sweeps you along. It is very funny and very authentic and the music is just gorgeous as well. I just loved it and I thought I wanted to be in it but I was having a lovely time in Mamma Mia at the time, and then Come From Away closed after the pandemic.”

But Kirsty was drawn to the tour, the first time she has toured for a long time and in fact the biggest tour she has ever done. She’s got two children, aged seven and 11 so it was a question of thinking how it could work: “But my husband did a tour year last year with Sister Act and we made that work OK.”

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