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Come From Away’ message not lost on Americans — just ask the Broadway Bitches

Doni (left) and Francesca are two New York-based theatre students who call themselves The Broadway Bitches and review Broadway shows through their popular YouTube channel. The pair say they have fallen in love with 'Come From Away,' which has added a new storyline to their understanding of the events of 9/11.
Doni (left) and Francesca are two New York-based theatre students who call themselves The Broadway Bitches and review Broadway shows through their popular YouTube channel. The pair say they have fallen in love with 'Come From Away,' which has added a new storyline to their understanding of the events of 9/11.

NEW YORK — Anyone would forgive a Newfoundlander for being a little overly excited about “Come From Away.”

What are the chances that there would be a Broadway musical about our province, for one, and how could we not be thrilled to see two of our own stellar local performers Petrina Bromley and Romano Di Nillo — in the cast?

But just in case you don’t trust our biased opinion, ask the experts: not only has the show earned awards from nearly every city in which it previewed and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, it’s nominated for seven Tony Awards, to be handed out in New York City tonight.

While you’re at it, go ahead and ask a typical American theatre-goer for their thoughts on the show, which is set on the backdrop of one of the U.S.A.’s worst and most life-changing tragedies in history.

Ask Doni and Francesca, two young New York-based Broadway experts who know their stuff when it comes to musicals, and who don’t give simple lip service in their YouTube reviews. “Sweet,” is one way they’ll describe “Come From Away.” “Beautiful.” “Amazing.” So amazing, the pair, who have never heard the story of the 7,000 stranded airline passengers who landed in Gander during the events of 9-11, have seen the musical three times, and are just as ecstatic about it as any native Newfoundlander.

“I’m not a big cryer, I never cry at shows,” Francesca says. “A piece of theatre has never made me cry so much. I was literally in tears crying the whole time, and I wasn’t the only one. You could hear sniffles and look around and see even these huge men wiping away tears. The message really comes across. I can’t see anyone not liking this.”

Doni and Francesca are Florida natives and longtime friends who both study theatre arts in New York: Doni’s doing a degree in technical theatre , while Francesca is a playwrighting major. Together, they call themselves the Broadway Bitches and through their YouTube channel and social media, they review shows, offer tips to Broadway goers, and give their predictions for awards season.

 

The pair originally went to see “Come From Away” for Jenn Colella, the actress who plays flight attendant Beverly Bass in the show. Doni started following the buzz about the musical around the time it hit Seattle, and when it opened on Broadway, she and Francesca were part of one of the first audiences to see it. They went home and filmed a rave video review right away.

They say they love everything about it, from the music and the acting to the minimalist set.

“It isn’t this big, flashy musical; there are no special effects or moving set pieces people have come to expect from musicals now,” Doni tells The Telegram. “It’s all very simple, 12 people and 12 chairs, and it creates a very intimate setting with the audience. I think it’s really great for this show.”

Above all, Doni and Francesca talk about the storyline. Every American has a 9-11 story, they explain; even those who are too young to remember the tragedy first-hand have the stories from their parents, and live in a country irreversibly changed by that day. “Come From Away” presents a new dimension to their history with a storyline many never knew existed, and the show’s message isn’t lost on the Broadway Bitches.

“One time when we went, we were in the balcony and we were able to look down and see Newfoundlanders in the audience who had brought flags. At certain celebratory moments in the show, they’d wave them,” Doni says.

“It’s about kindness and community, and I think it’s a very important message.”

“It’s a great message, and in the world at this point, I think people need that. I think we all need to be nicer, and learn to understand what other people are going through,” adds Francesca. “We are really rooting for ‘Come From Away’ to win Best Musical at the Tonys.”

Inspired by the show, Doni and Francesca have done a bit of research on Gander and its location, and are keen to see it for themselves.

“f I had the opportunity, I’d totally go. It seems like a lovely place to visit.”

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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