Listen: If you've never read this blog and are just tuning in, this is the one to read. And truth be told, you do not really need to even catch up because you guys--these are the big ones. That's right. In two epic and final blogisodes we are going to blast through the two best days in COME FROM AWAY history. There are pictures. There are lots of videos. Grab a bowl of Cod Au Gratin and some fried bologna, pour a shot of screech and settle in. These are the blog of all blogs and we are going long two days in a row. One year ago the cast, crew and our phenomenal band performed two benefit concerts in Gander, Newfoundland for the very people whose goodwill and sandwiches inspired this story. We performed the concert in the hockey rink in Gander, referred to as "the world's largest walk in refrigerator" if you've seen the show.
It was awesome.
It was epic.
I told you we'd get back to Beyoncé . We're here. It's Beyoncé day. Here’s us as Beyoncé in Newfoundland.
The buzz in Gander was palpable. As you guys can imagine, this little town was curious and excited and possibly a bit worried to see how their story might be depicted onstage. As was said to our writers, David Hein and Irene Sankoff by someone in Gander, "You guys are writing a musical about a bunch of people making sandwiches? Good luck with that." That was not said in a snarky way but instead a sincere "who is going to be interested in that?" kind of way. The Newfoundlanders overall very much have the belief their story is nothing special. They were just doing what anyone would do. That made the excitement even greater for them and us. We could not WAIT to show them the magic of....them!
As we stood backstage and heard everyone coming in (a lot of people! Sold out for both shows!) we had a sense we might get emotional. Let's face it--how often are you performing for the people who inspired the story? Joel Hatch says it best, "None of the reviews in the word mattered as much as what the people in Gander thought." Agreed. Anyway, someone passed out tissues backstage just incase any of us should need them, and as one of the best stories in Come From Away cast history goes, Lee MacDougall (who plays Nick) famously passed saying, "I'm not going to cry."
We filed up onto the stage and started the opening number and well, just listen. It takes them just a second to realize what we are saying.
As you can hear, they heard us singing "I'm an islander" and erupted into applause. It was a shock and awesome and lo and behold who was the first person to burst into tears? You guessed it. Lee. Which was awesome mostly because he a) did not have a tissue and b) was alternately laughing and crying because he could not believe himself. Lee is the most fun.
Now I am going to let the concert speak for itself and just blast a bunch of videos on here. These are for the die hard COME FROM AWAY fans, but are also mostly pretty short because we did not want to run out of room on my phone--so watch as you wish even if you think “meh, a bunch of videos?” Special thanks to nameless friend for filming these for me.
These are only snippets and kind of random, but this is everything I have. It's more about hearing the audience that watching the benefit, so you'll see what I mean. If you want to skip to the best one, just go to the finale
How about that finale!? Not shown is Mayor Claude Elliot and Mayor Derm and others who climbed up onstage and danced and took bows with us. One of the most incredible moments (there were a million of them) was when the Newfoundland characters were introduced (Claude Elliot, Derm, Bonnie, Doug, Janice, Beulah, Oz) they got ENTRANCE APPLUSE. That's right. Imagine almost three thousand people bursting into cheers and applause when Petrina says, "This is Bonnie Harris down here in he Gander SPCA." It was incredible. The most fun. The greatest day. People ask if we are all friends and how there is such camaraderie in the cast and I will point to these concerts. We all loved each other from the start (as casts do), but this trip to Gander and performing these concerts was bonding beyond anything a person can imagine.
After the concerts were over and we'd finished the final bow, our trusty and awesome stage manager Jen Koz (as we call her) grabbed us all and yelled "RUN" for the Beyonce moment I've been talking about. As we headed back to our dressing rooms we had to pass the crowds as they were filing out and it really was like a rock concert. They were yelling to us and fearful we'd get mobbed--we had to run for it! It was hilarious and fun and everything you dream about when you are 8 years old and playing in your bedroom with your stuffed animals and maybe that is only me, but you know what I mean. Commonly referred to as "Bucket list moment" but even more so--such a complete and total honor to make the people of Gander understand why it was so much more than making a tray of sandwiches. It's a level of kindness the world strives towards. The story we need to hear in the moment we so desperately need it.
Next up we are going to talk about what we did the day after the concert, which was our one free day/tourist day in Newfoundland. It was a jam packed day! Just you wait....