View profile

Come From Away: "Welcome to the rock"

Samseng Zhabor
Samseng Zhabor is a secondary newsletter that I run for fun. It’s irregular and a little random — just a space for me to share things that I like, and other musings on life.
You can find my main newsletter, covering Singapore from a rights-based perspective, at We, The Citizens.
If you’d like to contribute to cookies for my cats, you can tip me via Ko-Fi.

Every once in awhile I glom on to a musical. The cast recording gets put on repeat on Spotify, and snippets stick as earworms wherever I go. It turns into an unofficial soundtrack in my head as I go about my business day after day.
Right now, my musical glom is Come From Away, a Canadian musical that opened on Broadway in New York City in 2017. Come From Away tells the story of Canada’s Operation Yellow Ribbon as experienced by the little town of Gander on Newfoundland. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US airspace shut down, and flights were ordered to either return to their point of origin, or divert to Canada. 38 planes, carrying about 7,000 passengers, ended up landing in the airport next to Gander, almost doubling its population overnight. Faced with thousands of unexpected — and unwilling — visitors, and with no idea of how long they’ll be staying, the townspeople of Gander scramble to provide accommodation, bedding, food, clothing, anything the stranded passengers might need.
Come From Away — Official Trailer | Apple TV+
Come From Away — Official Trailer | Apple TV+
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the husband-and-wife team who wrote the musical, went to Gander on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and interviewed both the locals and the former stranded travellers who’d flown back to Newfoundland to commemorate the occasion. They put Come From Away together based on the stories they’d heard, with each member of the ensemble cast playing multiple characters, including real people. The show covers a gamut of emotions: confusion, anxiety, panic, pain, but also hope, mischief, joy, and love.
I’d been aware of this musical for some time, and really fell in love with one of the songs, but never caught on to the entire cast recording. This year, though, Apple TV+ (which I’m currently enjoying a free trial of) added a professional filming of the stage production to its offerings. I put it on a week or so ago and was absolutely blown away.
I think it was a combination of factors. The musical is beautiful in and of itself. At a time when we’re all supposed to be “distanced” from one another, there’s also something so powerful in seeing and hearing voices joined in song — it feels like it’s been so long since I’ve seen and heard people do things together. Just hearing the cast harmonising in the opening number brought tears to my eyes. After a tough year of collective stress for so many of us, it was just comforting to be reminded of the human capacity for solidarity and compassion.
At one point in the musical, a local bus driver is dispatched to drive travellers from Africa to a Salvation Army camp. It’s dark out, and people are lost and afraid, with no idea what’s happening and where they’re being taken. (Lest we forget, 2001 was a time before social media and live-streaming keeping us clued in.) The driver has trouble communicating with these terrified passengers. He notices that a woman is clutching a Bible — he can’t read it, but reasons that the numbering system will be the same as the English version that he knows. He borrows her Bible and shows her Philippians 4:6, which says: “Be anxious for nothing.” Be anxious for nothing. At a time of great fear and panic, it’s a small, but extremely powerful, act of kindness and connection.
I just really needed this.
Come From Away: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Come From Away: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
Kirsten, the Samseng Zhabor
Kirsten, the Samseng Zhabor @kixes

A random, whimsical newsletter on dramas, cats, and life. Written by a journalist in need of a break from the news.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.