BY DANIELLE OBAL
Next stop, Broadway.
Come From Away started as a small, 45-minute Sheridan College musical developed by Michael Rubinoff, Sheridan’s associate dean of Visual and Performing Arts.
The show started as a Sheridan student production as part of the Canadian Music Theatre Project at the Trafalgar Campus.
“I believed that if I could find the right writers, that shared the enthusiasm I did for telling the story, that we could have something very special,” says Rubinoff. To create Rubinoff’s dream, Canadian writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein were enlisted to write the musical and it became an even bigger stage hit.
“I’m immensely proud that the students at Sheridan were the first ones that worked with them, to give life to the musical. It is such an inspiration to our current students,” says Rubinoff.
Sept. 11 was a day etched in the hearts of many, through haunting visuals of heartache and terror. Come From Away is a heart-warming story that brings the true meaning of humanity and goodwill to life.
“I began to read the story about the outpouring of compassion and help and love in terms of clothing these people and sheltering and feeding these people, I was so inspired,” says Rubinoff.
It highlights the small town of Gander, Newfoundland and the way the community helped more than 6,600 passengers of 38 diverted planes that same day. With no place to stay, the Gander community came together to console and house passengers left helpless.
“When I saw this, I was so proud to be Canadian. Here’s a group of communities that were exhibiting the best of our Canadian values and that made me very proud,” says Rubinoff.
Come From Away is not just a reminder of the compassion of those involved on Sept. 11. “We’ve seen a rise of deep concern in how refugees are treated, and I think this is a story of taking in refugees – all those people were refugees on 9/11 from different countries from around the world,” says Rubinoff.
Rubinoff hopes that the show will greatly impact society today and notes: “It’s been wonderful to see so many Americans embrace the show and leave the theatre saying ‘I really needed to see that, I needed a reminder of what it means to be good to one another.’”
The musical is set to hit the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in the spring. “It’ll be the fifth Canadian musical to be on Broadway, but I think ultimately my goal was to honour the people of the communities the best way I knew how, which was through musical theatre,” says Rubinoff.
Before making its Broadway debut, it’s only fitting that the show make a coveted stop at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.
Produced by Tony Award-winning Junkyard Dog Productions, Come From Away will run from Nov. 15 through to Jan. 8. Mirvish Productions has added special holiday matinees for the in-demand Canadian show, as well as a designated night for Sheridan students on Nov. 22.
Broadway is a dream come true for Rubinoff.
“Sharing their story and being able to do that on Broadway, is the greatest platform we could possibly do it from, and I’m just overjoyed.”