GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSA) — Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the U.S. FAA directed over 4,000 airborn flights to land immediately at their closest airports. Those affected included 7,000 airline passengers on inbound flights from Europe to America, who were forced to land in the small town of Gander in Newfoundland.
Those passengers were stranded there for 5 days, but were welcomed warmly by a small town with a population of only 10,000. Based on interviews with those affected, Broadway’s musical “Come From Away” tells the true story of how a small town showed extraordinary hospitality in a time of tragedy.
Backstage at the Peace Center, where it is now showing, actresses Danielle K. Thomas and Julie Johnson say the show plays an important role in inspiring hope for humanity.
“It is a wonderful story that you’d never think, when you’re talking about something devastating and tragic, that there could be joy and laughter and healing,” Thomas says.
The musical is performed by live musicians, 12 actors, minimal props, and chairs. “The simplicity of the set allows you to focus in on human stories and those human stories are the whole point,” Johnson says.
The show is a collection of true stories like Nick and Diane Marcins’, who met there and fell in love. They visited the Peace Center last March to promote the show. “We’ve seen the show 60 something times now, and people go ‘Well, why?'” Nick Marcin says. “As Diane says, it like we renew our vows every time we see it.”
The Marcins still visit the town of Gander every year.
The show’s creators David Hein and Irene Sankoff told WSPA last March they aimed to stay as close to the true stories as possible when writing the show, which is “a gamut of laughing to crying to just feeling hope for the world.”
“They say truth is stranger than fiction and you can’t make up these stories. They were amazing,” Hein says.
In the spirit of the show, the Peace Center is partnering with United Way of Greenville County to put together hygiene kits for local families in need. Through Sunday, the Peace Center is collecting toiletry items like toothbrushes and floss outside the Box Office.
“The show does encourage you to look at just the smallest thing that you can do,” Johnson says.
Come From Away is showing at the Peace Center through Sunday April 21st. For tickets and more information, click here.