Come From Away Comes Back to Broadway



Randy Adams ’76

Randy Adams ’76 is an accomplished Broadway producer with two Tony Award-winning productions under his belt, including Come From Away, an acclaimed musical that tells a story of hope during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Broadway closed its 41 playhouses in March 2020 amid the global pandemic and reopened on Sept. 21, 2021, when Come From Away returned to the stage 20 years to the month after the events that inspired it. Come From Away is now playing in Columbus through Feb. 13, at the Ohio Theatre. Tickets are available on

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, members of the cast performed a free concert staging of the musical at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a filmed version of the staged production that was released on Apple TV+, both on Sept. 10.

Towers spoke with Adams, who says he believes New York will come back better than ever and he hopes Broadway and the arts will be the crown jewel of the city.

Where were you when it was announced that Broadway was closing due to the pandemic?

I was in the air coming back to New York City from London when I received word that Broadway would be shut down for a minimum of four weeks. We had just replaced part of the cast for the second year of the London production and celebrated their opening night performance the prior evening. Within five days, all productions of Come From Away were shuttered around the world. Melbourne, Australia, was the first to return on Jan. 19, 2021.

Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018

Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018

How has the closure of Broadway during the pandemic impacted the theater industry?

In the blink of an eye, everyone was unemployed. All the people associated with a Broadway show — actors, musicians, crew, stage managers, ushers, maintenance people, theater cleaners, box office personnel, marketing teams, general management and company management teams, dry cleaners, playbill printers, and on and on — went from working non-stop hours to nothing. All touring across America stopped. The number of people who lost jobs overnight was staggering. Broadway is a driver of tourism as well, so hotels, restaurants, and stores were also devastated. It will take time to recover all of it, but hopefully we will.

Do you think Come From Away takes on new relevance today?

I am fortunate that Come From Away is about kindness and goodness and taking care of people when they needed it most. It is an uplifting and energizing story at any time.

I find now that it is even more relevant because of what we have all collectively experienced this past year, during which people did extraordinary things. The people of Newfoundland still don’t think they did anything special. They think, “We just took care of people when they needed help — isn’t that what we are all supposed to do?” Indeed, it is what we all hope we would do in the same situation, and I think many people experienced it this past year in many ways — big and small!

Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018

How does the reopening of Broadway provide hope?

Theater people are the most resilient people in the world. The energy that will be in those theaters when they have their first performances will be the most amazing thing people have ever seen. The world is hungry for live performance and connection with people again. I think the reopening of Broadway safely is a giant boon to all arts and the city of New York. I most look forward to what new art, new shows were created during this pandemic or post-pandemic.

Hopefully, Broadway and the tours will come back stronger than ever. Hopefully, all people will return safely with new protocols to make sure people on stage, backstage, and front of house can do their jobs and be safe and healthy.

What message does Come From Away impart to its audience?

Come From Away is based on the true story of when the airspace over the United States was closed due to 9/11 and 37 planes holding around 7,000 people landed in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, a town of about 8,000 people. They welcomed the passengers and took care of them for five days. During this challenging time, people found love, laughter, and new hope in the unlikely and lasting bonds they forged. Kindness and generosity of spirit are great gifts at any time but during times of need are the most important gifts.

Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018

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Are you ready to experience live theatre again? Do you support regional theatre? Would you like to experience Broadway through the eyes of an Otterbein alumnus? Join us on April 21-26, 2022, for a very special event.

Meet Come From Away producer Randy Adams ’76 in New York City and explore behind-the-scenes of the Music Theatre of Connecticut with co-founder Jim Schilling ’79.

Space is limited for this theatrical tour.

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