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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THEATER BOOK REVIEW: Come From Away

Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock: An Inside Look at the Hit Musical. Music, lyrics and book by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Text by Laurence Maslon. Forward by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Published by Hachette Books. Hardcover, 224 pages.

Grade: A+

Put simply, the coffee table book for Come From Away is one of the best of the genre to date. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack is the high quality of the book itself, the outstanding organization, and the excellent balance of background history, show details and "insider" information.

Starting with a forward by Canadian Prime Minister (and fan of the show) Justin Trudeau, the book is set up in chapters that depict each day in the chronology of the show. As you might expect, there is a complete libretto of the scenes and songs corresponding with each, but each chapter is supplemented with essays about actual events, anecdotes by the actors and the people they play, and related production details.  Irene Sankoff and David Hein have thoroughly annotated their script and lyrics, including alternate lyrics, stories of how the cast helped shape key moments, and other insights into their collaboration. One of my favorite parts of each chapter are the "Cut From Away" which detail songs and scenes that are no longer in the show. Supplementing all of this are hundreds of full color production photos and historic photos of the settings of the play, including several locales around Gander and the other towns that came together in a time of need. My favorite pictures are those of the people depicted in CFA.

Prime Minister Trudeau

Among the tidbits I loved:

  • Those are real trees on the set.
  • There were several incidents that the writers wanted to include, but it was decided they were "too nice" to be believable.
  • The writers struggled with feeling what they were writing was too "Canadian," that is to say, too difficult to understand outside of The Great White North.
  • The humility of the Canadians, the gratitude of the unexpected guests.


This book makes me love the show even more. It is as feel-good and humanity-affirming as the show. I'd recommend this for theater fans and history buffs alike. The tremendous physical quality of the book is surpassed by the superior content.

Buy it on Amazon: HERE

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