The power of human connection in the face of adversity


13 June 2023

We’re all about promoting the voice of youth and providing a platform for young people to share their experiences and develop their critical voice through our Ambassadors program. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Canberra Youth Theatre or its staff.

Breanna Kelly, one of our 2023 Ambassadors, reviews Come from Away presented by Junkyard Dog and Rodney Rigby at the Canberra Theatre Centre.

Come From Away is a remarkably wholesome musical that transcends the boundaries of traditional storytelling. With its captivating narrative, talented cast, and emotionally charged performances, this production offers an unforgettable experience that will resonate with viewers long after the curtain falls.

Set during the September 11 attacks, Come From Away brings to life the true story of the 7,000 passengers stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, following the closure of U.S. airspace. The show’s genius lies in its ability to take an unimaginable tragedy and craft a tale of hope, unity, and the joyous spirit of humanity.

The music and lyrics, written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, are a perfect complement to the story. The songs effortlessly blend elements of folk, rock, and Celtic music, creating a unique and captivating sound that echoes the diverse backgrounds of the characters. Standout numbers like “Welcome to the Rock,” “Me and the Sky,” and “Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere” showcase the musical’s ability to balance humour and grief, providing a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the performance.

As a young theatre-maker, the ensemble work among the cast was truly inspiring. They deliver outstanding performances, seamlessly transitioning between multiple characters with ease and authenticity. Each actor brings their unique flair to the stage, embodying the quirks, fears, and hopes of the individuals they portray. The chemistry between the cast members is palpable, creating a sense of community that reflects the solidarity experienced in Gander during those trying times.

The set design is simple yet effective, representing Newfoundland’s rugged and isolated landscape. The minimalist approach allows the focus to remain on the characters and their stories, emphasising the power of human connection in the face of adversity. Combined with the lighting design and detailed costumes, the production design immerses the audience in the world of the show, transporting them to Gander alongside the characters.

What truly sets Come From Away apart is its ability to touch the hearts of its viewers. Through its stories of compassion, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit, it reminds us of the goodness that can emerge even in the darkest of times. The musical serves as a poignant reminder that despite our differences, we are all connected and capable of coming together to support and uplift one another.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience whilst watching Come From Away. It is a must-see musical that resonates deeply with anyone who witnesses it. The audience was electric and the energy in the foyer afterwards was utterly compelling. Come From Away showcases the power of empathy and unity, leaving a lasting impression that extends far beyond the theatre walls. Prepare to be moved, inspired, and reminded of the extraordinary capacity for compassion that lies within us all!

Breanna Kelly is a passionate young actor and theatre maker who has been in the Canberra theatre scene for eight years now. They have performed many roles including Monica in Dags (Canberra Youth Theatre) Jo March in Little Women, Featured Dancer in Be More Chill (Budding Theatre), and they directed and performed as Linda in Blood Brothers (St Francis Xavier College). In 2021 they played the lead role of Emma in Hawker College’s original radio musical Multiverse Superstar. Breanna also has the privilege this year to be part of Canberra Youth Theatre’s Ambassadors Program.