‘Come From Away’ Review: Looking for Light in Somber Times

‘Come From Away’ Review: Looking for Light in Somber Times

The capture of the Broadway musical “Come From Away” that is now streaming on Apple TV+ is almost impossible to hate. Unless, that is, you have an aversion to traditional Irish music and nice people.

The first permeates the score, a tribute to the cultural heritage of Newfoundland where the show is set — and where the second find themselves. The ensemble, many from the original Broadway cast, deftly toggles between portraying passengers aboard planes diverted into the Gander airport on Sept. 11, 2001, and the kindly Canadians who welcomed them to their isolated province on the Atlantic coast.

Hatched by the Canadian team of Irene Sankoff and David Hein and inspired by real people, “Come From Away” describes, in a series of vignettes, the surreal few days experienced by the stranded visitors and their hosts. Both were shellshocked by the situation and somewhat befuddled by each other, yet they made the most of the circumstances in a demonstration of tolerance and human decency.

You would have to be green and hate Christmas to wish ill on this story. At the same time, the show does not elicit passionate feelings of any kind: It is … nice.

Certainly, there is a double emotion involved in this Apple release: It coincides with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and was filmed in front of an invited audience at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater back in May, when all the other Broadway theaters remained shuttered. Christopher Ashley, whose work on the stage version earned him the 2017 Tony Award for best direction of a musical, acquits himself well in the transition to video. But this amiable production’s temperature never rises above lukewarm: good sentiments are, unfortunately, difficult to dramatize, an issue compounded by a score that can feel like aural wallpaper.

The best songs, which rely less on Celtic clichés, surface toward the end, including Jenn Colella’s belted ballad “Me and the Sky” and the rousing number “Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere.” It’s a fine send-off to folks we feel we got to know, at least a little.

Come From Away
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes. Watch on Apple TV+.

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