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Real Life And Art Intersect At La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘Come From Away’

Play inspired by events in Gander, Newfoundland, on 9/11

Come From Away,” the world premiere musical that opened at the La Jolla Playhouse in May, was inspired by the true story of what happened when 38 planes were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11, 2001. Recently, art and real life intersected at the Playhouse.

On June 20, patrons were seeing double at the La Jolla Playhouse when Nick and Diane Marson got to meet the actors playing them on stage in "Come From Away."

The Marsons met and fell in love in Gander, Newfoundland, when their planes were diverted to the small town following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"Everybody showed us friendship, hospitality, compassion, giving. It was unbelievable," Diane Marson recalled, after mingling with cast and audiences members in the theater lobby after a matinee performance.

Actress Sharon Wheatley plays Marson. She teased the couple by pointing out that while everyone else was dealing with the crisis, "You two are just walking around flirting. Canoodling."

Lee MacDougall plays Nick Marson in the La Jolla Playhouse production of "Come From Away," which takes place in Gander as thousands of people are stranded as planes are grounded.

"Everybody knows the story of 9/11 and has their own memory of it, so we have the dark side of the story understood for everybody personally. But this story, what happened that week in Gander, is so positive and the people of Gander opening their homes," MacDougall said. "And especially Nick and Diane, what happened to them, their romance story, it’s wonderful for us to sort of weave this sort of positive story out of something so negative. And I think that’s one of the things audiences so love is the fact that we know the dark side, but we are going to show something quite wonderful."

Marson pointed out, "They are real people [depicted in the play]. This is not a fictional story. All of these characters have been rolled into wonderful conglomeration of entertainment. It is awesome."

The cast was thrilled to welcome such special guests.

"There they are, Nick and Diane are in the house, and the rest of the cast is watching you watch us. ... They are loving it, they’re crying," Wheatley said.

And audiences are responding with similar emotions.

The run for “Come From Away” has been extended to July 12 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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