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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Howell Binkley. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Come From Away, Abbey Theatre, Dublin | Review


Come From Away (European Premiere) 
Abbey Theatre, Dublin 
Reviewed on Wed 19 December 2018 by Damien Murray
★★★★

As a former refuelling stop for trans-Atlantic flights, the remote town of Gander in Newfoundland was once well used to having many visitors on board passing planes. 

In 2001, due to its position and facilities, it unexpectedly found itself playing host to 38 international flights filled with 7,000 passengers of many nationalities during the horrific attacks of 9/11 on the North-Eastern region of the United States. 

This is not a show about those atrocities, but rather a true story of generosity, gratitude and ultimate hope performed as a theatrical documentation of the unfolding events at Gander as a result of the attacks and the efforts of a small island population to help their fellow man in exceptional and demanding circumstances. 

Ahead of its transfer to London at the end of January, it is, perhaps, appropriate that the European premiere of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s relatively new, but highly-acclaimed, award-winning musical, is being staged in Dublin as Newfoundland owes much of its music, language and culture to Ireland. 


This fact is reflected in the show’s accents, humour and music, with a distinctly ‘celtic’ approach to the score, instrumentation and underscoring in this Abbey Theatre co-production with Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. 

Playing a multitude of roles with a quick-fire change of accent, hat, shirt or jacket to convey each character, the hard-working and 12-strong cast - Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Clive Carter, Mary Doherty, Robert Hands, Helen Hobson, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison, Emma Salvo, David Shannon, Cat Simmons and, returning to the city where she made her professional debut, Ireland’s own West End and Broadway star, Rachel Tucker - prove the perfect team for this exceptional ensemble piece. 

Indeed, the captivating cast takes ensemble performance to a whole new and higher level in this factual, intense and heart-warming drama. 

Performances here are of such a uniformly impressive standard, it is almost impossible to single anyone out for special praise, but it must be said that, with her commanding stage presence, quality vocals and passionate performance, it is no accident that one of Rachel Tucker’s main characters is, appropriately, that of the Captain. 


By necessity, the casting is diverse to reflect the wide cross section of some of those who were caught up in the Gander situation with people of various shapes, colours and creeds being represented; each with their own story and circumstances and each dealing with the situation in their own way. 

With Beowulf Boritt’s simple, sparse and static (apart from a stage revolve, which, thankfully, is not overused) set representing the remoteness of the forested island being cleverly lit by Howell Binkley’s mood-inspiring lighting, this production is greatly helped by Christopher Ashley’s no thrills direction and Tara Overfield-Wilkinson’s relentless choreography and movement to advance the evolving story in its 100-minute performance time, without ever losing the attention of its audience. 

Because of the nature of its unfolding story, this unconventional musical benefits greatly by the absence on an interval to ensure no loss of momentum or continuity. 

The show is also unusual in terms of the musical score, which mixes Celtic with folk and rock with the addition of a few ballads and, with tongue firmly in cheek, gives a musical nod to Titanic to add humour to the piece. 

Apart from when they take centre stage for a bit of an international hoe-down during Screech In (highlighting the importance of music as an international language), the eight accomplished musicians, under Alan Berry’s musical direction, are discretely positioned at the side of the stage. 


Musical highlights are dominated by the ensemble’s excellent choral work throughout, particularly in songs like Darkness And Trees, while the beautiful rendition of Prayer reinforces the commonality of music in religion. 

Other highlights include Rachel Tucker’s moving showcase song, Me And The Sky, and the tender love song, Stop The World. 

In the midst of mixed emotions, fear, confusion, panic, terror and tragedy, we find that camaraderie, friendship, tolerance, respect and humour are universal and all shine through in this story of interaction between strangers when they are thrown together in the most unusual of circumstances and when relationships survive and grow with random acts of kindness. 

Human resourcefulness becomes second nature as all rally round to provide such practical essentials as food, clothing, accommodation, language interpreters, counselling, medical and spiritual care, money and special care needed for babies and animals that were on any of the grounded flights. 

In addition to the positive feelings when they are all pulling together as one, a painful feeling of loneliness and emptiness descends on everyone immediately after they eventually leave to go home similar to that experienced at the end of an Irish wake. 

This story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a time of need is truly inspirational and this intense, gripping, emotional and heart-warming production perfectly captures the generosity of the human spirit and the hope that has been born out of tragedy to create an oasis of harmony in a world of confusion. 

Come From Away runs at the Abbey Theatre until Sat 19th January 2019 

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy 

Friday, 1 July 2022

Come From Away to Play Final Performance in West End on 7 January 2023

The multi award-winning London production of global hit musical Come From Away will extend in the West End from September until the end of the year before holding its final performance at the Phoenix Theatre on Saturday 7 January 2023.

By the time the West End company take their final bow, this critically acclaimed production will have played 1048 performances in London, 47 performances in Dublin and won many major UK theatre Awards including the Olivier, Critics’ Circle and What’s On Stage Awards for ‘Best Musical’.

The current London cast of Come From Away includes Jenna Boyd (Beulah and others), James Doherty (Claude and others), Mark Dugdale (Kevin T/Garth and others), Alice Fearn (Beverley/Annette and others), Kate Graham (Diane and others), Robert Hands (Nick/Doug and others), Jonathan Andrew Hume (Kevin J/Ali and others), Gemma Knight Jones (Hannah and others), Kirsty Malpass (Bonnie and others), Harry Morrison (Oz and others), Emma Salvo (Janice and others), Lejaun Sheppard (Bob and others), with Chiara Baronti, Ricardo Castro, Stuart Hickey, Alexander McMorran, Sarah MorrisonLucy ParkJennifer Tierney and Matthew Whennell-Clark.

The Come From Away band includes Alan Berry (Musical Director/UK Musical Supervisor), Matt Bashford (Whistles/Irish Flute/Uillean Pipes), Aoife Mairead Ní Bhriain (Fiddle), Oli Briant (Electric/Acoustic Guitar), Justin Quinn (Acoustic Guitars/Mandolins/Bouzouki), Joey Grant (Electric and Acoustic Bass),  Ray Fean (Bodhrán/Percussion), Ian Whitehead (Drums/Percussion), Huw Evans (Associate Musical Director), Andrew Barrett for Lionella Music, LLC (Electronic Music Design), Phij Adams (Associate Keyboard Programmer), Ryan Driscoll (Music Preparation), and David Gallagher (Orchestral Management).

Come From Away shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.

Experience the joy, heartache and soaring music as the spirited locals and global passengers overcome their fears and a world of cultural differences to come together and forge friendships that will stay with them forever. The first female American Airlines captain, the quick-thinking town mayor, the mother of a New York firefighter and the eager local news reporter are among the many real characters caught at the start of the moment that changed the course of history, and whose stories became a true celebration of hope, humanity and unity.

The international hit musical has celebrated sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, in Canada, throughout Australia, and on a 60-city North American Tour.

The Come From Away creative team includes Irene Sankoff and David Hein (Book, Music and Lyrics), Christopher Ashley (Director), Kelly Devine (Musical Staging), Ian Eisendrath (Music Supervision and Arrangements), Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Design), Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Howell Binkley (Lighting Design), Gareth Owen (Sound Design), David Brian Brown (Hair Design), August Eriksmoen (Orchestrations), Pippa Ailion CDG and Natalie Gallacher CDG (Casting), Joel Goldes (Dialect Coach), Michael Rubinoff (Creative Consultant), Bob Hallett (Newfoundland Music Consultant),  Shirley Fishman (Dramaturg) and Tara Overfield (Associate Director and Choreographer UK).

Come From Away is produced in the UK by Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. The European premiere of Come From Away was co-produced with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre.

Tickets for Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre are available via comefromawaylondon.co.uk.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre | Review


Come From Away
Phoenix Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 12th February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Come From Away is a giant hug in a musical which even the most icy of people will be moved by, as it portrays a time of amazing and heroic hospitality under immense pain and pressure.

Discussed as a 9/12 musical, Come From Away is set on and after the horrific events of September 11th 2001, but instead of leaving you downtrodden, it will leave you inspired and probably feeling a little sentimental. Written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, it is an incredibly well rounded and fluent piece of theatre which provides catharsis whist becoming a celebration of goodness.

The show is set in the small town of Gander in ,Newfoundland Canada, which homes just over 11,000 people. On September 11th 2001, 38 planes were diverted to Gander airport, with 7,000 passengers and crew plus several pets and a pair of chimpanzees who were headed for a zoo. The people of Gander came together to provide shelter, food and friendship to the 'plane people'; and all who were there have incredible stories, bonds and live changing experiences from their time. They may have left Gander, but Gander never left them.


After interviewing many Plane People and Ganderites, David and Irene condensed these stories into a 100 minute show that features sleek role-swapping, musical theatre numbers and catchy Celtic tunes. Christopher Ashley's direction is crisp and to the point but also leaves room for us to study the story further, and of course allows us to look at ourselves and wonder what we would do in the same situation. This is further helped by Tara Overfield-Wilkinson's relentless and sharp choreography and Howell Binkley's striking and mood-evoking lighting. These aspects married with Beowulf Borritt's well thought out space, keep up momentum and evolve the story as simply but effectively as possible.

The heart of this show is community, and like the stories themselves, it is built around ensemble and teamwork.  The typically Newfoundland scenes such as the 'Screech In', feel like we've stepped into a pub and are really experiencing a group of people enjoying life. In such a group led piece, with smooth character changes, amazing use of simple props/set, it is unfair to name standout performances. The cast as a whole bring these people and stories to life and it's truly moving to witness such a wonderful and transformative piece of theatre. 

The cast is comprised of Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Clive Carter, Mary Doherty, Robert Hands, Helen Hobson, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison, Emma Salvo, David Shannon, Cat Simmons and Rachel Tucker with Chiara Baronti, Mark Dugdale, Bob Harms, Kirsty Malpass, Tania Mathurin, Alexander McMorran, Brandon Lee Sears and Jennifer Tierney. All of whom, alongside the distinguished on stage band  (led by Alan Berry) and all the crew, who are unseen during the 100 minutes, should be equally applauded for their work on the must-see show in the West End. 

Concise and well-rounded, Come From Away is a stunning and poignant reminder of human kindness, which will surely leave you standing a little taller and smiling a little more.

Come From Away runs at the Phoenix Theatre and is currently booking until September 2019

photo credit: Matthew Murphy