The musical Come From Away continues to give back to the people of Gander, with the town's legion being the hit show's latest beneficiary.
Members of the musical's North American touring cast recently held a cabaret night in Cleveland, with proceeds going to pay for repairs to the Gander Legion building.
The legion is one of the central locations in the musical about how Newfoundlanders treated stranded airline passengers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"I think the enormity of what happened here in this community 18 years ago, and the generosity that was shown to the 7,000 people here, was a symbol of humanity and a symbol of what we are all capable of as human beings," said Sue Frost, one of Come From Away's producers.
"The cast and the band see it as a real privilege to tell this story and they also see it as a real privilege to have an opportunity to give back," Frost said.
The cabaret night sold out and brought in more than $8,000 USD. Frost's company, Junkyard Dog Productions, matched that, for a total donation of just over $17,000 USD.
"I was over the moon. All I could think about was our legion, and that we're finally going to get some money to get some work done," said Beulah Cooper, a long-time legion member and the inspiration for one of Come From Away's characters.
Legion president Nelson Granter already has a list of priority repairs for the aging building.
"Well, there's so many things we need to do, but our washrooms are a priority," Granter said.
"But before that, there's the ramp outside. We are going to put a completely new wheelchair ramp out there. Then the floors. And then there's a few more things I can name, but the money isn't there for the rest of it."
Come From Away helping in other ways
Cooper says the legion has few opportunities to raise money aside from catering, which is a lot of work for a small number of members, so Come From Away has been a tremendous help in more ways than one.
"We've had many bus tours come through here this summer," Granter said.
"We have the famous screech-in that takes place here and we have done quite well off those. Come From Away is a big deal here in Gander, Newfoundland and at the legion in particular. We really need them."
The producers of Come From Away are in Gander this week to facilitate the province's first annual musical theatre symposium, with the aim of developing the next generation of artists.