Sue Frost On Producing Hope -- And 'Come From Away'
“It was probably the high point of my professional career,” says Sue Frost, producer of the hit Broadway musical “Come From Away,” whose tour is coming to The Bushnell for a week starting April 30.
Frost was not speaking about the time she accepted the Tony Award in 2010 for producing the musical “Memphis” but rather about a very unusual out-of-town musical experience in 2016.
It was when the Broadway-bound “Come From Away” was presented in an ice hockey arena in Gander, Newfoundland, a close-knit community of 11,000 people.
The town and its very large airfield — it was built as a refueling stop in the early days of trans-Atlantic travel — is the setting for the show’s story, which takes place on 9/11 and the days following. That’s when 38 planes were ordered — for fear of further terrorist sky-born attacks — to land in Gander. There the 6,700 stunned passengers found a generous community that welcomed the unexpected “plane-people.”
“First we had this crazy welcome dinner at the airport when we arrived,” says Frost. “That’s when a lot of the cast met their real-life Newfoundland counterparts.”
Then came the performance, which was the first time the townspeople would see themselves depicted on stage in the show that would open a few months later on Broadway.
“It was amazingly intense and spectacular,” says Frost. “Everyone was anxious because no one knew how the show was going to be received. But the minute the show started with the cast singing “I am an Islander,” the place just erupted. We were all sitting there just bawling. I don’t know how the cast got through it. I still get goosebumps thinking abut it.”
The $12 million show opened on Broadway in March 2017 to positive reviews and then received seven Tony nominations.