NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The curtain goes up Tuesday on another hit Broadway musical returning for the first time since the pandemic struck.
“Come From Away” tells the story of the dozens of planes diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on Sept. 11, 2001, and the kindness and support the passengers received from the locals.READ MORE: Web Extra: Reopening Dates For Various Broadway Shows
CBS2’s Tony Aiello was one of those flyers. He was returning from vacation with his wife, when they ended up in Gander and lived the very hospitality showcased in the musical.
As Aiello reported, it seems culturally counterintuitive: Perhaps the most successful work of art inspired by 9/l1 is an uplifting, funny, joyous Broadway musical.
“Come From Away” was written by the Canadian married couple David Hein and Irene Sankoff.
“We lived in New York on 9/11. David’s cousin was in the towers. Fortunately, she got out,” Sankoff said.
They remember the mood on the streets, the desire to do something to help, and the coming together as a New York family.
“It was also our experience in New York that made us not want to write a 9/11 story. We wanted to write a 9/12 story,” Hein said.
They found it in Gander, where 38 planes and almost 7,000 passengers were grounded by the terror attacks.
Aiello and his wife were on the 37th plane to land.
Stranded by an act of hate, they found an island of humanity as the locals took care of their every need for four days.
“They were so appreciative of being able to do something,” Aiello said.READ MORE: Electric Atmosphere Greets ‘The Lion King,’ ‘Wicked,’ ‘Hamilton’ And Others As Broadway Makes Triumphant Return
“It just feels like, ‘Of course we did,'” said Petrina Bromley.
Bromley is the only Newfoundland native in the original Broadway cast.
She said many in that island province shared her reaction when learning “Come From Away” was in the works.
“Oh, a musical, about 9/11, in Gander. Well, good luck,” she said.
As Sankoff and Hein developed the show off-Broadway, the reaction at the first U.S. workshop performance worried them.
“The laughter in the room was so loud, I remember that feeling, sinking down in our seats,” Hein said.
“It’s not a comedy. We did this wrong. We had people in the audience who had lost multiple people that day, and they were like, ‘Oh no, leave it in. We need it!'” Sankoff said.
Now, “Come From Away” returns after a COVID interruption. A story about coming together to serve those in need seems like good medicine.
“People are looking for messages of hope and kindness and community and generosity,” Bromley said.
You’ll find it onstage at the Schoenfeld Theatre.
You can watch our special “Broadway Shines Again” at 8:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS2 and CBSN New York.MORE NEWS: 9/11 20 Years Later: Tony Aiello’s Real-Life ‘Come From Away’ Story
Broadway’s reopening celebration will continue on Sept. 26 with the Tony Awards. You can watch it this year streaming on Paramount+, starting at 7 p.m. Then at 9 p.m., on CBS2, you can see a special that will feature performances and live presentations of the awards for Best Play, Best Revival of a Play, and Best Musical.