Come From Away is a show that celebrates kindness and goodness, so is it any wonder that the casts of its many international productions feature a lot of moms? Not to mention that, as the show's co-creator with David Hein, Irene Sankoff, points out, "I became a mother at the same time as Come From Away came into existence, so it is extremely hard for me to separate one from the other!"
Many of the real-life mothers who are in the show feel a special resonance in the musical's themes of motherhood. "I love that there are a range of well-rounded mothers in our show," Sankoff says. "Some are moms that put family before career, some are breaking glass ceilings. One choice isn’t more valid than another. It depends on the woman herself."
The national tour's Captain Beverley Bass, Becky Gulsvig, points to the echoes of the role within her life. "Bev spends the whole show being strong, keeping things in line, trying to take care of her passengers and be a good leader—all while she is away from her family and calling home to try to stay connected," she says. "I am doing the exact same thing. Every time I 'call home' in the show it is easy to connect to the feeling of trying to be in two places at once and feel the pull of being away from those you love."
Being a working mother can be difficult, but being part of the Broadway community can make a world of difference. "The community of working parents is incredible," says Megan McGinnis, currently starring as Bonnie in the national tour. "And specifically, the community of moms has been my backbone during the difficulties of balancing life as a mom and life as an actor. There is a group called Broadway Baby Mamas that was started by Jessica Rush and Cara Cooper, and these women have helped me through everything. I’m also incredibly lucky to be working with the kindest and most family-oriented producers you could imagine on Come From Away."
"I think being a mom has given me a renewed love of what I do," adds Julie Reiber, a standby on Broadway. "It has simplified things for me. Acting is about listening and reacting, and my kids have made me a better listener and given me a deeper sensitivity and access to my feelings. As a mom, you just don’t have as much time in your life to study, prepare, and do your work the way you used to, but it’s almost a blessing in disguise. I find I’m more focused in my work."
And just as audiences leave Come From Away inspired to be a better, more understanding and patient person, so too do the actors leave the show each night with a renewed resolve.
"Come From Away is, at its core, a show about being a good person, about our responsibilities as human beings to put our own needs aside and care for one another," says Happy McPartlin, currently in the Broadway production. "At its core, parenthood is about the very same thing. Parenthood is often about caring for others without too much regard for yourself or your own needs, putting them aside. I think that walking out of Come From Away, the audience feels a calling to be a little kinder and gentler towards their fellow humans. That’s certainly how I try to be—more thoughtful and caring, aware of how I can help others. And that’s absolutely how I’m raising my kid to be."