Those closest to Come From Away 'in awe' of its global impact

·3 min read
Petrina Bromley smiles at the opening night gala for Come From Away in 2017 in New York City. Bromley has been with the production throughout its five-year run.  (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Petrina Bromley smiles at the opening night gala for Come From Away in 2017 in New York City. Bromley has been with the production throughout its five-year run. (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

Those closest to the story of Come From Away are feeling nostalgic about all that the production has given them — and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Producers announced Wednesday the Tony-winning musical, based on the role of the town of Gander played in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will end its Broadway run in October.

The show opened on Broadway in March 2017.

Petrina Bromley, a St. John's performer who has been with the musical since its earliest performances, said while she is disappointed to see the run come to an end, the power of the show cannot be understated.

She recalled the first time she had heard about the plan to make a musical with a 9/11 theme, she had doubts.

"At the time it meant nothing. I'm sad to say I dismissed it. You know, I did have that reaction of, 'OK, there's a couple of mainlanders coming down to tell a story about Newfoundland. Good luck to you,'" she told the St. John's Morning Show. "I didn't think anything else of it."

She soon enough learned what the husband-and-wife team of Irene Sankoff and David Hein were writing, and got on board during an early staging.

Bromley recognizes the impact the show has had on all who have seen it.

"We are going to be the longest-running Canadian musical in Broadway history. We will be the longest-running show in the Schoenfeld Theatre," she said.

"To be a part of something that is a piece of theatre history is an incredible thing that I never dreamt would happen to me."

'It's just unbelievable what it's doing'

Come From Away's cast play multiple characters, largely based on real people who were stranded in Gander when flights were diverted, as well as the residents who looked after them.

Oz Fudge, a former municipal police officer from the town of Gander and who inspired a character, said the global reception to Come From Away has meant great things not only for him personally, but for Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole.

WATCH | See The Gander Ripple Effect, a documentary on Come From Away and the events and people that inspired it:

"This is the type of thing that brings people to the province. You've got to recognize the fact that it's not just Gander. It's the whole province," said Fudge. "The province has been projected as a place to go. It's just unbelievable what it's doing for this province."

Fudge said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gander welcomed as many as 19,000 visitors a year, thanks in part to the success of Come From Away.

Submitted by Shawn Taylor
Submitted by Shawn Taylor

He said to have the play continue to run in other venues will only continue to help the province.

Reflecting on opportunities that have come from the production, Fudge said he was able to see the world. Productions would recruit the people who inspired characters to help launch productions in various countries.

"I never thought in this world or the next that I would be able to travel to Australia, but I did. I never thought I would be going to New York walking the red carpets on Broadway, but I did," Fudge said in an interview with CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning.

All the times I've been to Toronto, London, L.A. There's so many things that have happened."

Bromley said she thinks about the final performances often, and isn't quite sure how well she and the rest of the cast — many of whom have been with the show for years — will be able to hold it together.

"Even early in the run, it was like always, 'Remember, this will some day come to an end,'" she said.

"I really want to be present in what's happening and really soak in these last shows and take moments for myself to recognize that I am here on Broadway playing this incredible show with these incredible people, and file those moments away for myself to always be able to return to those incredible memories."

Come From Away will end its run at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Oct. 2.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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