HASH(0xbf281c)

Newfoundlanders portrayed in ‘Come From Away’ celebrate Tony nominations

Newfoundlanders celebrate Tony nominations

GANDER, N.L. — Cheers went up Tuesday at the legion hall in Gander, N.L., as 9-11 volunteers portrayed in the hit Broadway musical “Come From Away” celebrated its seven Tony Award nominations.

“It was a super morning, and there was so much excitement,” said Beulah Cooper, who is still close friends with the unexpected guests she welcomed into her Gander home during five extraordinary days after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“A tray of sandwiches got me here,” she joked.

“I just want to congratulate everyone involved. It was a super job and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

Gander almost doubled in population as the attacks closed U.S. air space, diverting 38 planes with 6,579 passengers and crew to the sprawling international airport on the edge of town.

What happened next has become a legendary tale of simple compassion. With few questions asked, Gander and the surrounding communities of Gambo, Appleton, Lewisporte, Norris Arm and Glenwood donated everything from food to prescription drugs as they turned schools and meeting halls into shelters. Many residents threw open their own homes to “the plane people.”

Stranded travellers from all over the world were often floored when their offers to pay for such help were turned down with remarks such as: “You’d do the same for me.”

Those true stories of human kindness during a horrific time struck Toronto theatre producer Michael Rubinoff, a self-described “recovering lawyer,” as fodder for a musical about this uniquely Newfoundland 9-12 aftermath.

The result is a critically acclaimed production that has won over audiences in La Jolla, Calif., Washington, D.C., Seattle, Toronto and now on Broadway.

Two benefit concerts showcasing a pared-down version of the show last fall in Gander had both sold-out crowds on their feet clapping long before the final number finished.

Rubinoff, a producer of “Come From Away” and associate dean of visual and performing arts at Toronto’s Sheridan College where it was developed, was back Tuesday where it all began.

“Whether it was good news or not so good news, I wanted to be in Gander with the people that inspired these stories,” he said in an interview.

“As we were watching together, waiting, just to hear ‘Come From Away’ nominated for best musical and six other nominations, it was really special. The people that are portrayed, they’re just incredible.

“It’s very rare that you have a musical that not only is a true story, but where the characters who inspired it are alive, and to be with them to share in this milestone, oh boy, it was quite emotional.”

Rubinoff said about 25 people shared a meal of breakfast bakes and traditional Newfoundland toutons, a type of thick pancake served with molasses.

“To be surrounded by these people who have really become like family, and to share in something so special, it is another moment on this journey that I will never forget.”

Gander Mayor Claude Elliott, who is also portrayed in the show, said “Come From Away” offers a hopeful message that is very timely, especially in the United States. 

“It’s about helping people with wanting nothing in return, and that’s what probably the world is missing today, more of that. That’s our way of life here.”

The Tony Awards will be presented June 11 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

— By Sue Bailey in St. John’s, N.L.

Follow @suebailey on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Most Read