|Rachel Hunter played the Captain|
|The box office at 11 AM|
It is almost 18 years since the airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center. It is still one of the most shocking moments of our lives. Lulu was teaching in New York City then at St Johns University. She was driving to work when she got a call saying don't come in. The news said two planes hit the city and we were at war with someone.
We heard that the play "Come From Away" was about 9/11. Details were scant - but we heard it was a great play that got a lot of awards.
Wednesday morning I walked to the Phoenix Theater box office. I am usually lucky getting day seats - seats sold on the day of the show at a discount. I lucked out and got two tickets in the front row for 20 pounds each. I love it up front because I can see the characters' faces - and boy was this a great play for that. I texted home to Lulu saying - I got nice tickets for the 2:30 PM matinee - we're in the front row!
We got dressed - then walked to Japes in Soho. Japes makes a fantastic deep dish pizza for 7 pounds. We had a slow lunch - then went to the theater at 2 PM. I was surprised that the matinee was packed.
The sign said the show is 100 minutes long - no breaks - so this was time to visit the rest rooms. We walked down to the front row - nice seats - plenty of leg room - but the stage was about 4 feet high.
The play started promptly at 2:30 PM. There were only about 20 players - if you count the full orchestra of 8 that never left the stage. Gander Newfoundland must have a strong Irish influence as much of the music and accents were Irish.
Simply - when the World Trade Center was hit - all planes coming toward the USA were detoured to other places. Gander Airport was built in 1938 - one time it was the biggest airport in the world. Gander has only 9000 people - but it is right on the great circle route from Europe to the USA. We pass it every time we come to London - coming and going.
On 9/11 - 38 planes - almost 7000 people were forced to land at this one time important airport - now just a fading relic - like many cities in the Rust Belt of the USA and the UK. Imagine 38 planes parked at your local airport - not moving for 4 days.
The play is all about how the locals rolled out the red carpet for their guests. They set up several barracks in the schools - fed everyone in the cafeteria kitchens - even the SPCA took care of the animals on the planes.
Rachel Tucker - a West End legend - plays the first female captain of an all female crew on the American Airlines jet that landed there. She was sensational.
The play went on exactly 100 minutes - I loved the music and dancing. It was a blend of blue grass and Irish rock - lots of hoofing - and every member of the cast participated. Adding to all the choreography was a 20 foot stage circle that turned along with the dancers and the props. Just action all over the place.
Our seats were perfect - the sound was good - every character was face-miked. Most of the players seemed 30 to 50 years old. Lulu said - imagine - they have to do it all over again at 7:30 tonight.
After 4 days - the guests were allowed to take off to their original destinations. The main flight we were following was London to Dallas - a common American Airlines flight we have taken.
The play opened in San Diego - then it sold out more than any play ever in Seattle. It played Toronto and even Ford Theater in Washington DC - before it went to Broadway. It was the longest running Canadian play on Broadway ever. Now it is running on the West End of London - a few blocks from our home.
I remember that day in 2001. I swore I never wanted to fly again. In 2004 - most of the NBA stars refused to fly to Greece for the Olympics. We did not start our summers in London until 2008.
|This couple married - he was from London - she was from Dallas|
|The band stayed on stayed and hoofed along|
|Beautiful garnet and gold theater|
|The first all female flight crew|
|We sat in front row - notice the high stage|