5 Questions from Over the Pond: Jenn Colella & Rachel Tucker
It's Captain vs. Captain as the Broadway and West End stars of Come From Away take flight in this month's edition of 5 Questions from Over the Pond...
The Broadway production of Come From Away's reputation has evolved from once being celebrated as "the little show that could" to now being regarded as an international success story. As the show continues to play to standing-room-only capacities each and every week at Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, across the pond, the West End premiere dominated at the 2019 Olivier Awards earlier this month, winning no less than four Oliviers in the categories of "Best Theatre Choreographer" (for Kelly Devine), "Best Sound Design" (for Gareth Owen), "Outstanding Achievement in Music" (for David Hein & Irene Sankoff), and, most importantly, "Best New Musical". It's safe to say that no other new musical this year has had quite the impact on London's West End that Come From Away has and the word of mouth has spread like wildfire amongst theatre aficionados and the general public alike.
The beauty of Come From Away, whose events take place in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, is its infectious spirit of hope and optimisim and its celebration of human kindness, connections and community. The show's genius is the fact that it works so impressively well as an ensemble piece where the cast members taken on a variety of roles in an attempt to convey the sheer scale of what happened in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, after the population was almost doubled by 38 planes diverted there upon the closure of the American air space. And yet, it is hard not to feel inspired by the particular story of one Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines aircraft. Alongside the character of Newfoundlander Annette, Beverley is brought to life on the Broadway stage by the much loved Jenn Colella, whilst her West End counterpart is none other than Rachel Tucker, a native of Northern Ireland who Broadway fans will know from her turns as Meg Dawson in Sting's The Last Ship and as Elphaba in Wicked.
As Beverley, both Jenn and Rachel truly soar with their renditions of "Me and the Sky" and "Somewhere In the Middle of Nowhere" and manage the difficult task of portraying a character expected to stay a dignified and strong leader in the face of an unprecedented crisis. No wonder both actors earned Tony and Olivier Award nominations, respectively, for their captivating performances.
So, we thought we would celebrate Come From Away's recent success in London by inviting Jenn and Rachel to take part in this month's edition of 5 Questions from Over the Pond, where they have the opportunity to ask their Come From Away counterpart questions of their own choosing. So, get ready to board the plane, folks! Here are the five questions that came from away...
Here are the five questions from London's Rachel Tucker for Broadway star Jenn Colella:
- Rachel: Congratulations on 1,000 performances! How long had you been doing this show from development to Broadway?
Jenn: Thanks, my friend. I was part of development for two years prior to our Broadway run.
- Rachel: You’ve met Captain Beverley Bass nearly as many times as you’ve played her! What’s been the best nugget of advice or information she has shared with you?
Jenn: Captain Bass has become a dear friend through this whole journey. The best nugget she shared with me is the fact that she didn't let herself cry during the five days she was in Gander because she had to be a strong leader for her crew and passengers. This helps me hold it together as we retell the story each night onstage.
- Rachel: Having the incredible musicians on stage throughout the show is very special for us. What does that feel like for you and which instrument would you love to play if they asked you to join them?
Jenn: Ahhh! I love this question. Our interactions with the band make the show all the more exciting for us as well. I make eye contact and have a little ritual with each and every member, which feels awesome because they are the connective tissue that's holding the whole show together. I'd wanna play the bodhran (the Irish frame drum) because it's the heartbeat of the entire experience.
- Rachel: You began your career as a stand-up. What did you take with you from that experience into the acting world?
Jenn: Stand-up taught me how to be utterly courageous on stage. If I bombed a joke during my set, I learned very quickly that that didn't mean the whole night was lost. I could fail and then get the audience to laugh heartily at the very next joke. It helped me realize that no matter what happens onstage, I can trust myself and the world will keep right on spinning.
- Rachel: What’s been your biggest highlight or achievement throughout your life in the show?
Jenn: Oh, Rachel, there have been so many!! But if I have to choose only one, I'd say performing a concert version of the show in Gander for thousands of Newfoundlanders takes the cake.
Check out Jenn Colella's five questions for Rachel Tucker on our London Theatre Guide sister site here!
Come From Away Tickets are available now.
(Photos by Matthew Murphy)