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‘Come From Away’ Companies Rally to Support Australia Following Bushfires

Category Broadway

|by Robert Peterpaul |

These “islanders” are living out the show’s message of community

“Can I help? Is there something? I need to do something…” Thoughts of this nature immediately echoed through the minds of many upon learning of Australia’s bushfire crisis. This particular roaring plea also happens to be a set of lyrics from the uplifting musical Come From Away. And as the world stopped and witnessed flames engulf 16 million acres of the country, the show’s “islanders” leapt into action.

The cast of ‘Come From Away’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

The cast of ‘Come From Away’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

“We were all worried and wondering what we could do,” Australian native Marika Aubrey, who plays Beverly and others in the Come From Away North American Tour, said. “(Producer) Sue Frost announced quickly that all the companies around the world would be joining forces to help raise funds.”

All five productions – the tour, Toronto ($36,071.15 CAD), London ($25,000 GBP), Australia ($30,000 AUD) and, of course, Broadway (which donated $10k above what BC/EFA had previously given on behalf of the Broadway community) – seized the moment. From post-curtain bucket collections to the generosity of producers matching donations, Come From Away generated a whopping $145,000 USD ($210,000 AUD) for the Australian Wildlife Fund, WIRES & Australian Wildlife Rescue Organization. But the islanders didn’t stop there.

While the cast kindly solicited donations onstage, the Broadway costume department fluttered into action backstage. They crafted bird nets, bat wraps and joey pouches, which are essential to the recovery of orphaned and displaced animals Down Under.

“To see my colleagues racing to dress down and run to get out to the foyer with buckets, to see how hard our management teams were working to count the money and facilitate the donation...It brought me to my knees,” Marika continued. “This company really are my show family – and that means something very real to me, especially when all my Aussie family are so far away.”

How poignant to watch Come From Away, a musical built on the beauty of helping others, burst with the same amount of extraordinary love when the lights go down. “That's the remarkable thing about our producers,” Marika said, “they really walk the talk of our show.”

Emma Ford, an Australian-born drummer who now beats bright on Broadway, had a similar reaction to the overwhelming support from her Come From Away cohorts. “It has been really hard to be away from home during this scary time,” she said. “However, my show family has made me feel so supported during this time and for them to be donating, crafting and supporting my country when we are in need is just amazing.”

She added: “The story we tell on that stage is one of kindness and to see it come to life through this company for my country, people and (Australia’s) animals is pretty incredible.”

The aforementioned efforts of Come From Away are a true testament to the power of theater. After watching the musical’s players come together over an hour and forty minutes, audiences are inspired to do the same. “One human, in about 45 seconds, asking 3000 strangers to help all these other desperate strangers all the way across the ocean,” Marika recalled. “And the response...We've never experienced anything like it!” 

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