Mapping out one La Jolla Playhouse musical’s trip from inception to globe-spanning success
The concept for the La Jolla Playhouse-bred musical “Come From Away” sprang from a day of immense tragedy, but the show’s creation didn’t actually begin until a decade after the terrible events of 9/11.
Now, the work has traveled from La Jolla to Broadway and back to California (on tour), and is being staged overseas as well. Here’s a step-by-step look at how that all happened. (Numbers correspond to locations on the map above.)
Also be sure to check out our main piece on the show’s journey here, including interviews with some of the people who made it happen.
1. Sept. 11, 2001: In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the subsequent “ground stop” of all air traffic, 38 jetliners carrying thousands of people are diverted to the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland. The last planes finally leave five days later.
2. September 2011: Irene Sankoff and David Hein, a married pair of writer-composers from Canada, attend a 10th-anniversary reunion of the “plane people” in Gander, and begin interviewing them.
3. April 2012: An early version of Sankoff and Hein’s “Come From Away” receives its first developmental staging at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, through the Canadian Music Theatre Project.
4. January 2013: “Come From Away” receives further workshopping at the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals in East Haddam, Conn.
October 2013: The show is selected for the annual National Alliance for Musical Theatre festival in New York City, and receives a 45-minute showcase. The work is then optioned by Junkyard Dog Productions, which also produced the Broadway staging of the La Jolla Playhouse-bred “Memphis.”
5. November 2014: The world premiere of “Come From Away” is announced as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2015-16 season, with Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley (who also directed “Memphis”) at the helm. The show is a co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre.
June 11, 2015: “Come From Away” has its official opening in the Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. (Here’s the Union-Tribune review.)
6. November 2015: “Come From Away” opens its follow-up run at Seattle Rep.
7. September 2016: The musical moves to the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
October 2016: “Come From Away” is presented in two concert performances in the town of Gander’s ice rink, for about 5,000 residents. The shows bring the entire town to its feet, and bring the house down.
November 2016: The show opens at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, its final production before Broadway.
Feb. 4, 2017: The cast returns to San Diego briefly for a concert performance at the La Jolla Playhouse gala.
March 12, 2017: “Come From Away” officially opens on Broadway (where it continues to run).
June 11, 2017: The show — nominated for seven Tony Awards — wins one for Ashley as best director of a musical.
October 2017: The Broadway production of “Come From Away” recoups its $12 million investment.
February 2018: “Come From Away” returns to Toronto for an extended “sit-down” production.
October 2018: The show’s first U.S. national tour opens at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.
8. November 2018: “Come From Away” returns to Southern California for the first time since its Playhouse world premiere, opening a six-week tour stop at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. (The tour also will make stops in San Francisco in January and Costa Mesa in February, but no San Diego engagement is scheduled.)
9. December 2018: “Come From Away” is set to open a run in Dublin, Ireland, before heading to London’s West End.
10. 2019: Productions are scheduled to open in London and in Melbourne, Australia.
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