Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the audience before the start of the Broadway debut of the musical "Come From Away", in New York City on March 15, 2017. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP)The attendees included U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, who arrived in the same motorcade as Trudeau and his wife Sophie; cabinet members; and scores of foreign countries' ambassadors to the United Nations.
Story set in Gander, N.L.Created by husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein, "Come From Away" is set in the remote East Coast town of Gander, N.L., in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The town saw its population double in size after local residents sheltered 6,579 passengers and crew from 38 planes diverted when U.S. air space was closed following the tragedy. The play had its official Broadway opening on Sunday, which was followed by widespread critical raves from publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. The play offers the proverbial emotional roller-coaster that swings from tear-jerking moments to knee-slapping jokes from Newfoundland residents overwhelmed with the task of handling an influx of visitors. One recurring subplot involves prejudice against Muslims.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire, chat with some of the citizens from Gander, N.L., who were the inspiration for the Broadway musical "Come From Away", in New York City on March 15, 2017. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/CP)An Egyptian man is continually sidelined by frightened characters, rebuffed from helping with the cooking before he can explain he's a world-class chef. Some people made note of parallels with events unfolding outside the theatre. Guests were arriving amid breaking news that a U.S. court ordered a halt on the president's latest executive action freezing refugee processing and limiting travel from a handful of majority-Muslim countries. The president slammed the ruling as unprecedented judicial overreach. Meanwhile, the theatre was filling up. The prime minister arrived at the midtown Manhattan venue in the same motorcade as Ivanka Trump. They rolled up to the theatre in separate vehicles, and quickly entered the building where they chatted with other guests.
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Ivanka Trump, Freeland chatIvanka Trump chatted with people who came up to her seat in the middle of the hall to get their picture taken. She also exchanged words with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her father's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. There were up to 150 other UN ambassadors in the crowd — people Canada will spend the next few years lobbying in its effort for a temporary seat on the security council. There were also diplomats and politicians who were involved in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. As he walked in, former prime minister Jean Chretien shared some memories about the tragic events that inspired the story being told on stage. Chretien says he and the minister of transport were made aware of Gander residents taking in thousands of passengers when U.S. air space was closed following the tragedy.
Chretien reflects on events of that dayHe also recalled speaking with then-president George W. Bush about Canada's role in assisting its crisis-stricken neighbour. "We were involved in many things," Chretien said as he walked in. "It was quite a day." Prior to its arrival on the Great White Way, the homegrown production had earned strong reviews as it criss-crossed the continent with shows in La Jolla, Calif., Washington, D.C., Seattle and Toronto.