After its first season was cut short in 2020 due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, Come From Away has made an emotional return to the stage.
Music theatre has returned in Melbourne’s theatre district, with the award-winning musical Come From Away taking to the stage after a 10-month hiatus due to coronavirus (COVID-19) – and it is every bit the uplifting, compassionate and feel-good musical that theatre-lovers have been yearning for.
Raising the curtain at Melbourne’s iconic Comedy Theatre on 19 January, the long-awaited return of its Australian tour is the first of its kind worldwide as Broadway, London, Toronto and North American counterparts remain on pause.
Come From Away follows the incredible real-life tale of 7,000 air passengers who became grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. The small community that welcomed the ‘come from aways’ into their lives provided hope and compassion to those in need.
As the world faces uncertain times during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic it seems both surreal and somewhat poetic that we welcome the creative industry back with the ultimate story of hope and humanity.
Producer Rodney Rigby said that whilst the theatre industry around the world is facing its greatest crisis due to COVID-19, Australia is in an enviable position.
“The Australian production is incredibly fortunate to raise the curtain. We are able to do so because of the resilience of everyday Australians, who have a spirit of kindness and humanity that we have seen throughout the bushfires and the pandemic - it is the same spirit that Come From Away embodies,” he said.
While Victorians have been enjoying eased COVIDSafe summer restrictions, the Come From Away production crew have been working behind-the-scenes not only to welcome back artists to Australian stages, but to also ensure audiences are packing out theatres in a COVIDSafe environment.
Come From Away producers started the COVIDSafe Plan development in July 2020, establishing a COVIDSafe taskforce of company stakeholders – including producers, performers, production staff and contractors, in order to establish the key operating considerations across the production.
Together with a consulting epidemiologist, the taskforce met fortnightly over the six-month period to discuss and review new and innovative operating protocols that focus on hygiene, cleaning, mask wearing, regular coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for all company members, and record keeping across the operations, both back of house and front of house, for the entire production crew.
Working in regular, close consultation with the senior medical and major event teams at the Victorian Government, as well as key industry stakeholders including Visit Victoria and Marriner Group, the taskforce ensured both the venue and production COVIDSafe Plans worked hand in glove.
This adaptable, flexible and collaborative approach to COVIDSafe planning has paved the way for other global theatre productions to return to Melbourne stages in 2021, providing a stimulus to the visitor economy and creative sectors.
After a 49-week hiatus, multi-award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will resume performances from 25 February at the Princes Theatre, and Moulin Rouge has been given the green light to open its doors at the Regent Theatre in August 2021.
Information on how to create a COVIDSafe public event can be found here on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Victoria website.