What we’re obsessed with right now: ‘Come From Away’ on Apple TV+

The cast of "Come From Away" perform on Broadway
Astrid Van Wieren, Sharon Wheatley, Emily Walton, De’Lon Grant, Paul Whitty, Q. Smith and Tony LePage in “Come From Away” streaming on Apple TV+.
(Sarah Shatz/Apple TV+)

San Diego Union-Tribune editors and writers share what they’re currently obsessing over.

What I’m obsessed with: “Come From Away,” a musical about airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland, after planes were forced to land immediately after the 9/11 attacks. It tells the story from the perspective of the townspeople banding together to welcome nearly 7,000 people to their remote Canadian town, as well as the frightened and confused passengers who had no idea what was happening that day.

Why? Like most theater-going San Diegans, I’ve been aware of “Come From Away” since its 2015 world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse. Though I didn’t get to see that original run, I followed its success as the musical made its way to Broadway in 2017 and eventually earned director Christopher Ashley a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.

The live version: After so many years of local hype, I finally saw “Come From Away” on Broadway in 2018. It not only lived up to the hype, but surpassed it. The way the cast of 12 performed both the roles of the Gander townspeople and the frightened passengers, using nothing but chairs and stage lights to set the tone was brilliant. Being in a city directly affected by the tragedy made the experience even more poignant.

On screen: Filmed versions of stage shows never quite capture the magic of being there in person. But “Come From Away” was recorded this past May (while Broadway was still closed) in front of an invited audience that included 9/11 survivors and health care workers, and you can sense the emotion from the start. Ashley, who also directed this version, makes it feel like you’re sitting in the front row but also adds overhead camera angles that really allows viewers to appreciate Kelly Devine‘s innovative choreography.

Familiar faces: If you did get to see the show when it was at the La Jolla Playhouse, you’ll see plenty of familar faces. More than half of the Apple TV+ cast was also part of the local premiere: Tony-nominated Jenn Colella, Petrina Bromley, Joel Hatch, Q. Smith, Caesar Samayoa, Astrid Van Wieren and Sharon Wheatley.

(“Come From Away” is now streaming on Apple TV+.)