By Jamie Bullins
The Lied Center, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 7:30 pm.
I knew very little about this musical when I went to the Lied last evening. Of course, the premise and the events that surrounded the story were unfortunately familiar. A story referring to undoubtedly the worst single day on American soil in my lifetime. We all know where we were as we either watched the events unfold or rewatched them again and again and again and again.
I didn’t know this story though, until last night. A story of how humanity can occur in the midst of such hate, and how kindness can outshine the darkest of days.
This production celebrates people. It celebrates the best of us. That day in 2001 is the pinnacle of the worst of all possibilities performed by people on other people. But, in the middle of these frightening few days, there was generosity and compassion that comforted these 7,000 souls. I could go on and on, but you just need to see this. Everyone should see it. It’s personal, and touches each and every person in the room.
A quick note as well about the bones of this work. It shows that we don’t need millions of dollars of fancy effects and sets and costumes to tell a genuine story. There are a few chairs and tables. And trees. A group of 8 musicians are a keen part of the story. The costume changes take place onstage, and most involve taking off or putting on a jacket or hat. Simple does not mean less than: it puts the focus on the people, the characters, and the story. For God’s sake, the story.
The aforementioned musicians were absolutely outstanding. The energy of the band and the Celtic, folk-rock style score was palpable. The 12 people in the company were a fantastic, tight-knit ensemble. Each played an integral part (well several parts) of the story and transformed seamlessly throughout the performance from one character to another. I can’t (and won’t) attempt to pull one performer out of the group to highlight, mostly ‘cause it’s not possible. Each had highlight moments of their own and you’ll have to choose for yourself.
So, we’ve established that everyone needs to get their ticket as soon as you read this, if you haven’t already. Just a couple of notes/thank yous are necessary. Thank you, Lied Center, for putting that insert in the program for the other theatres in the community. I usually hate inserts, they end up on the floor most times, but thanks for this one. This is a story about community: good call. If we don’t work together, what good are we? And, finally, I’ve had numerous conversations about the current trend of the requisite standing ovation at any and every performance. I stand to applaud when I’m moved to my feet. Well, last night I was one of the first up. I only paused to wipe the tears away.
Thank you, Lied Center, keep telling your stories.
If you go: You can catch Come from Away April 28, 29, 30, May 1 at 7:30 pm and April 30, May 1 at 2:00 pm. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online.
Jamie Bullins is a member of the faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL, since the fall of 2017. He is an Educator, Scenographer, Director, and Playwright and has been at it for almost 30 years now.
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