“Come From Away” is a wonderful musical according to Sharone Sayegh, and what really makes it special, she says, is that it’s all true.
“It’s a beautiful show, really lovely because it’s all about human kindness, and that’s something we need, especially right now,” said Sayegh, one of six women and six men sharing the stage in the David Hein and Irene Sankoff sung-through musical about the aftermath of 9/11 in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. “It’s a story we need to hear because it’s about a community coming together, and all the events you see really happened. All the numbers are real, and that makes you feel real proud about being a part of this show.”
First produced at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario in 2012, “Come From Away” stops at Proctors for eight shows in six days beginning next Tuesday and running through Sunday, Jan. 30. It became a huge success at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in 2013 and at Seattle Reportory Theatre in 2015.
First produced in New York City at the Schoenfeld Theatre in March of 2017, it was the longest running Canadian musical in Broadway history before being shutdown by the COVID-19 Pandemic. A critical and box office success, it was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, winning for Best Direction of a Musical.
“Come From Away” tells the story of what happened during the week after 9/11 when 38 international flights heading for New York had to be redirected to an airport in the small town of Gander in northeastern Canada. It was called Operation Yellow Ribbon, and most of the characters in the musical are the real names of Gander residents or were among those 7,000 people stranded in Newfoundland and Labrador. And most of those 7,000 people were taken in by Gander residents.
“It’s not like there are two leads in this show, and all six of the men and women play a main character but then also play some of the smaller parts,” said Sayegh, whose primary role, Bonnie Harris, works for the Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals. “We just put on a hat or a different coat, right in front of the audience, and become somebody else. Bonnie works for the SPCA, and nobody was thinking about the 19 animals, mostly pets, that were on these planes.”
The people of Gander, however, once they got over the shock of watching the Twin Towers come down, sprung into action. Emergency shelters were quickly put up, and homes were suddenly thrown open to these unexpected visitors, doubling the population in Gander.
There is some dialogue in the show, but almost all of the interaction between the characters is done musically.
“It’s not like there’s a scene, then a song, another scene and then a song, like you see in most musicals,” said Sayegh. “Except for a few spoken lines, we basically sing the whole show.”
A Los Angeles native who now lives in New York City with her husband and their young child, Sayegh’s parents were both Israeli immigrants to the U.S.
“My mom came here when she was 15, and my dad a bit later in his 20s,” said Sayegh. “They were actually from the same small town is Israel, but they never met until they got to Los Angeles. That’s where I was born and grew up, and I was always acting and singing. I was always pretty serious about musical theater.”
Sayegh headed east to Syracuse University and graduated in 2006 with a degree in musical theater. By 2009, she was on Broadway performing as a member of the ensemble in “Mamma Mia!” Then in 2016 she originated the role of Anna in “The Band’s Visit,” which in 2018 earned Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
“That was the first time I portrayed my actual ethnicity,” said Sayegh. “That was wonderful. I grew up speaking Hebrew and Arabic, and it was really cool to have my family from Israel come to New York and see the show.”
It was near the end of “The Band’s Visit” that Sayegh landed the part in the national tour of “Come From Away.”
“I went to see it when it was on Broadway and I really loved it so much,” she said. “I was in a show that I loved, and getting ready to do another show that I love and then the pandemic hit. My husband, who’s from Oneonta, and I took the time we had to have a baby and get a bit more settled in New York.”
Sayegh started with this national tour in 2019.
“The show got shut down because of COVID and then we were able to start back up in September,” said Sayegh. “I signed on for a year so I’m in until next October. Then it will be back to New York and more auditions. My husband and I are probably going to look for a bigger apartment.”
All audience members must wear a face mask throughout the duration of the show, and are also required to provide proof of full vaccination at the door.
‘Come From Away’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 30; show times are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 1:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $125.50-$25.50
MORE INFO: Visit www.proctors.org or call (518) 346-6204