Comes From the Heart
As a Mirvish subscriber, I was very excited that ‘Come From Away’ was included in my package this year. It’s the unbelievable true story about a small town called Gander in Newfoundland whose population doubled practically overnight when 38 planes had to land in their airport on September 11th when US airspace was closed.
The townspeople of Gander housed and fed thousands of stranded, stressed and scared passengers.
I walked into the Royal Alexandra Theatre wondering how what I thought of as a somber story could become a play (and overnight sensation, to boot). I ended up being pleasantly surprised and immediately won over by the opening number ‘Welcome to the Rock’.
My heart was warmed by the cast, who were so charming and believable as the residents of the small town of Gander, where everyone knows their neighbours. Watching the townsfolk rush to prepare school buses, community centres, their own homes and yes, even a hockey rink to help accommodate their ‘visitors’ made me feel strangely patriotic. They didn’t bat an eye; they didn’t sleep for days, they gave the shirt off their backs and even had people from the town show up to help without being asked. Where else, I thought, than Canada?
Stranded passengers shared stories that were relatable and had you asking what you would do if put in the same situation. There was a scared mother trying to get in touch with her son, a relationship that was beginning to crack under pressure, a young man skeptical of the ‘Canadian hospitality’ he was being shown and a courageous female pilot from American Airlines, Beverley Bass, who’s efforts to keep her passengers calm & help keep the situation under control, hid her own struggle with the situation.
Beverley Bass quickly became my favourite ‘character’, I say character, but I knew from press on the play that she was very much a real person and worked with the cast to help tell her side of the events. In 1986 she became the first female captain for American Airlines and the first woman to fly a Boeing 777 for an airline. Her passion for the industry really shone through and her almost desperation to begin flying again a week after September 11th was touching. As someone who has worked in an airport and where travelling is a very important part of my life, when Beverley Bass told her story of stopping what few passengers were still showing up to the airport to shake their hand and ‘Thank them for still flying’, it hit me hard.
I went from wiping my eyes to laughing and being overcome with joy when residents of Gander opened up the local Legion to invite the stranded passengers to have a few drinks, dance to a live band (and an ugly stick) and get ‘Screehed’ in to become an official ‘Newfoundlander’. If you don’t know what getting ‘Screeched in’ means, it involves hard alcohol and kissing a cod, be sure to Google it. The audience pretty much screamed with excitement when the ‘Screech In’ number ended, and I was one of them. I have never felt so many different emotions while watching a play before. I almost felt like I knew these people, I felt for them and their stories and their unending kindness for strangers in their town. I felt like I knew them.
What makes this play even more interesting was that it started off as a 45 minute workshop piece for the Canadian Music Theatre Project as part of the Sheridan College Music Theatre Performance Program back in 2012. It became a full production at Sheridan in 2013 and from there it played in Connecticut, Seattle and finally Toronto. I loved knowing that this great production was created in our own backyard and hope to see many more from Sheridan in the future.
I would definitely recommend this show; it will be playing until January 8th, 2017 before moving onto Broadway and would make for a great holiday gift. (Be sure to visit Mirvish.com for more info, tickets range from $65-$225). It runs 100 minutes with no intermission.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go book a flight to Newfoundland…. I’ve got a cod to kiss!
Until next event!
NXT CITY NIGHTS
I was lucky enough to attend the after party for the NXT City Public Space Symposium on Friday. NXT City connects young leaders with city builders to create, activate and program public spaces. The ideas this year were so creative and I can see how every one of them could add to and improve the city I call home.
This year’s winner came from Wysp Creative, of which Luca DeClavasio and Andrew Patterson are co-owners. Their idea was to prevent cars & bicyclists from speeding through the road space where TTC patrons enter and exit streetcars, which I have to admit, I myself have had a couple of close calls with cars and bikes “skimming” right by me, it’s a frightening reality for a day to day TTC user. Their idea was to create loud, bright streetcar safety murals on the roadside stops. This way it can provide extra visibility to drivers and cyclists to make them aware of the safety zone where cars and bikes are not supposed to enter when the streetcars doors are open.
Not only does it improve the safety of pedestrians and driver’s alike, it also adds beauty to the city streets. All in all, this idea receives a BIG thumbs up from me! I can’t wait to see it on our city streets. To see the runners up (and examples of these beautiful murals), be sure to visit www.NXTcity.ca
Now onto the After Party: NXT City Night! I was so fortunate to receive passes for myself and my boyfriend from one of my favourite Toronto publications, NOW Toronto. It was my first time visiting the venue space District 28 in the heart of Toronto’s studio district
The event was broken into three rooms, which housed two DJ’s, an open bar, dance space and a black lit room filled with fake snow that you could make an ‘snow angel’ or two in if you donned a safety suit (you read that right). After my boyfriend pulled me away from the snow room we were sure to sample the food and drinks they had available.
I really enjoyed the delicious cocktails that Tequila Tromba were slinging out from behind the bar, and I’m not even a tequila person, but wow, they were delicious. They were set up right next to a favourite restaurant of ours, Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, who we were very excited to see! They were serving up Kanom Jeen Num Niew which is braised pork rib curry soup with vermicelli noodles, and don’t ask me how but it seemed to work perfectly with the tequila cocktails! If you haven’t tried Pai out before, I would highly recommend it, I’ve never had a bad experience there and you can taste the love and skill that goes into their dishes!
Passing the main bar in the lobby that was serving up wine from Fielding Estate winery, we hit the Oyster Boy oyster bar. I have to admit, that night at 30 years of age, I tasted my first oyster (with the encouragement of the Oyster Boy staff) would I try them again? Heck no, but my boyfriend who is an oyster enthusiast couldn’t get enough. At least I tried!
We danced to the DJ’s in the main party room while event goer’s added to a giant white board with their answers to the written question “What makes this city so great?”. We finished the night off with some Steam Whistle brews served out of the side of their keg van and ramen from Kan Pai.
All in all, it was a really great night. Everyone in the room was radiating positivity and excitement for our city. We all mingled, danced together and talked about our love of Toronto.
All the idea’s brought forward this year made me feel really excited for what’s to come. Instead of looking at Toronto with uncertainty in the New Year (sometimes it really does feel like it’s getting harder and harder to live here) I looked around at all the creative people and groups working so hard to make Toronto that much greater….and I felt hope.
~Until Next Event! X
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.