Come From Away Production Photo
Come From Away Production Photo

Joel Hatch, Rachel Tucker, & Pearl Sun on the Emotional Return of Come From Away

Set during one of the darkest periods of American history, one would think that Come From Away, the musical that follows the lives of stranded airline passengers during 9/11, would lean into the tragic elements of the day. However, at its core, the musical is a story about hope and resilience that shows us the good that can come from the kindness of strangers. Entertainment journalist Frank DiLella caught up with Joel Hatch, Rachel Tucker, and Pearl Sun, some of the current members of the Broadway company of Come From Away, to talk about bringing this show back to the stage of the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

You’re back in the rehearsal room, gearing up to reopen your show on September 21. How are you all feeling?

Joel Hatch: I’m extremely emotional. You get to be my age and you go, “Oh, my God, that’s a year and a half of my life and I don’t have that many left!” [Laughs.] But to be with these people who I absolutely adore, it’s the best feeling in the world. And then to be able to tell a story with a hopeful message is a blessing.

Rachel Tucker: I just arrived from London two weeks ago and went straight into rehearsals. Getting to rehearse with this whole cast has been a real treat.

Pearl Sun: I was very emotional on the day when we returned. I got teary-eyed. I miss these characters and I missed my fellow actors. It’s just so wonderful to be back!

Rachel, you were celebrated in London for creating the role of Captain Beverley Bass, and then you came to Broadway in March 2020 to do the role here. But you only had a couple of days with her before the pandemic shut everything down.

RT: I had a sense that a shutdown could happen because Europe and London were so bad. I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking, “It’s happening.” And it did. It was devastating. We closed and I flew straight back to London on March 13.

Broadway is coming back, and it’s coming back stronger than ever. Joel, you were one of the very first performers to get back in the theatre in front of a live audience when you shot the Apple TV+ presentation of Come From Away this past spring. What was that like?

JH: I give so much credit to the people in that audience. They went through a rigorous testing process; everyone had to be vaccinated. And they were so incredibly generous. You couldn’t have asked for a nicer welcome home from an audience.

Pearl, there’s a give-back element to this musical that goes beyond what we see on stage, something that’s inspired by one of the characters in your show.

PS: Yes. We have a pay-it-forward initiative. It was inspired by the character of Kevin Tuerff. Every year on 9/11, he hands $100 to his employees to do with it as they see fit in charitable ways. The producers extend that to us every year: Each of us receives $100 and we pass it out however we see fit.

What will be going through your minds on September 21, the night when you officially reopen to the public? 

PS: I’m getting chills right now with that question. I just want to try to remember every moment and cherish it. It’s a very unique experience, this return of Broadway after such a long shutdown — and, God help us, may we never have this again. But I know that audiences are hungry and miss seeing live theater. So to be able to have that relationship with them again, it’s something that I’ve missed.

JH: It’s a chance to say that after a year and a half, things can still be positive. Things can be hopeful! We can recover and life can get better. And that’s a great opportunity.

RT: I’m sure there will be several show-stops with tons of applause. It’s going to be epic, and I don’t think I’m ready for it. I’m going to be a ball of mess on the floor!

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