Everyone who is old enough to remember 9/11 can tell you what they were doing that day – but what about the day after?
That’s the focus of Come From Away, the newest project that Jay Krottinger and Ryan Jude Tanner of Square 1 Theatrics will help bring to Broadway. While the two admit to initially being split on whether to become involved with Waitress, their most recent Broadway production that earned four Tony nominations, there was far less doubt on Come From Away.
“We took a leap, went to see it and immediately fell in love with it,” Krottinger says. “It’s relevant, it speaks to and honors 9/11 victims, and it’s a culmination of the event in a perfectly heartfelt, respectful way to relive the day after 9/11, which we all did.”
The musical focuses on the true story of 38 planes carrying more than 6,500 passengers that were forced to land in the small town of Gander, in Newfoundland, Canada. The town of less than 10,000 people is the home of a large airport that was made unnecessary with the introduction of jet engine airplanes.
The passengers came from more than 100 countries and found themselves stranded together for six days, and the musical follows their stories.
“You have a couple that are married today that didn’t know each other before then. A woman from Texas and a man from Britain,” Krottinger says. “You have two couples that separate over the matter. You have a mother who has a son who’s a firefighter in New York, and she can’t get a hold of him … and he perished. You have American Airlines’ first female pilot – what are the chances that she’s the one who has to land the plane there?”
Despite the gravity of the setting, Come From Away does not focus on the tragedy of 9/11. The show has its share of serious, heart-felt moments, but it also provides an inspiring, uplifting story that embraces humor.
“This show is the counterpoint to 9/11,” Tanner says. “Everything that day stood for in terms of terror and what was bad and wrong with the world, this show is the answer. This is the response to that. This little town represents the world, and that’s because people from all over the world landed that day in this tiny little town.”
The show is currently running at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., where its run has been extended to Oct. 16 because of a high demand created by favorable reviews, including receiving four out of four stars from DC Theatre Scene. It will run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto from Nov. 15 to Jan. 8, 2017, before moving to Broadway for previews in February and a March opening.
Come From Away joins a host of other projects produced by Krottinger and Tanner. The two got their start producing Flipside: The Patti Page Story before moving on to the Tony-award winning Pippin and Waitress, which is currently on Broadway and beginning a tour soon. The two are also producers for A Very Sordid Wedding, the sequel to Del Shores’ cult classic Sordid Lives, and are producing Body Electric, a documentary about body issues in the LGBT community.
While the two look for the possibility of commercial success for all their projects, they also look for projects that tell a story they feel needs telling. Come From Away fits that mold.
“It’s a show I think all our investors are proud of,” Tanner says. “I know Jay and I are very proud of it, as well as the people who have been working on it for a decade now and the stories and the people it represents. And you get to laugh. It’s pretty great.”