Come From Away is a multiple award-winning Broadway musical which tells the true story of kindness and humanity after tragedy. The remarkable story takes place in a small town in Newfoundland which came together to help 7,000 stranded passengers after their planes were diverted on a dark day, September 11, 2001. The musical explores what happens when strangers take care of each other despite the difficult circumstances of the situation.
Nick Duckart is an actor who plays several roles in Come From Away, and recently chatted with us about what it’s like to be part of telling this story of perseverance and kindness.
Come From Away is at San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts from July 12–17, 2022. Information and tickets available at broadwaysanjose.com.
Hi Nick thanks for the time. First off, could tell me a bit about how you got into the world of performing arts and what inspired you to go on that path?
Yeah, absolutely. So I was born and raised in Miami, actually a suburb of Miami called Hialeah, Florida, and basically, I had academic dreams as a kid and I was student athlete and that sort of thing. And then I took a drama class just for fun, but really, I always kind of loved watching live shows and things like that, but I never saw myself ever being talented and cool enough.
But my drama teacher really opened my eyes to what it means to be a story seller and what it means to really just dive into characters more than just what’s on the surface. So once he opened that door for me, the rest was history, I became obsessed with it and I just devoted the rest of my life since then. So it’s been now 21 years of my life has been committed to practicing this craft.
Can you tell me in your words the story of Come From Away? What do you think about the show, its message and story?
So I think for me, Come From Away is a really good show that is a love letter to humanity. That’s the way I look at it. It is a show that shows the best of humankind. After the 9/11 attacks, 38 planes were rerouted to Newfoundland. And over the course of five days, these Newfoundlanders took in the stranded airline passengers and gave them food, shelter, communication with loved ones, kindness. And then friendships were built. Romance is bloomed. It was an incredible moment in time that came as a result of our country’s greatest tragedy.
Because what you’re seeing on stage is people being really good to each other and taking care of each other when it was hard to do so because we have to remember that at the time, smartphones weren’t a thing. The Internet was very new. There was no way to communicate and get information of the drop of the hat so there was a lot of confusion and fear. As a result of that confusion and fear people had to really take care of each other, and they took care of each other because it was the right thing to do. And the audiences are going to see 100 minutes of people just being really really good to each other on stage.
Could you tell me a bit about the character or characters that you play in the show?
So we all play the majority of characters because we all represent 16,000 stories. So I’m listed as Kevin J, who is one half of the Kevin’s, a couple who are stranded on the planes. I also play Ali, who is an Egyptian Muslim chef who’s also a stranded airline passenger. Then I play Dwight, who is one of the local Newfoundlanders. And then we all play other characters, like, all throughout the course of the show. But those are the three main ones that I play.
Out of all those, do you have a favorite to perform?
I don’t know if I would say that I have a favorite per se, but the thing that I feel the most pride and sort of try to proceed with as much responsibility, is playing Ali, because Ali represents the Muslim experience around 9/11. And that is one that is very complicated and one that I feel a great sense of pride in being able to tell because it’s in a time when there’s a lot of confusion. I feel very honored to be able to tell the Muslim experience around 9/11.
And jumping off of that question, is there something that you have taken away from the show, whether it be a lesson or something like that?
Yeah, well, I think the lesson that at least we’ve been with the show since 2018, so it’s been four years now, and the lesson that still stays with me to this day is kindness is free.
You can be kind. Everybody is capable of kindness. And I try to proceed with kindness as much as humanly possible in my daily life, whether it be single acts of kindness that are small, like, let’s say, I don’t know, like buying somebody a cup of coffee or something, or something big. As far as just, like being there as an emotional support system for somebody who’s going through a hard time, we all are capable of being good to each other, and I think that sometimes we get so lost in the world and what’s going on, all the negative, right?
There’s so much negative around us on a daily basis that we tend to lose sight of just us being humans, sharing this space together. So what do we do to make sure that everybody’s okay and what role can we play? So, for me, I think that’s the message that continues to stick with me all throughout the years, kindness is free. It’s not hard to be kind.
And finally, why would you recommend that people come see Come From Away?
Well, it has everything you want in a musical, in my opinion. It has moments of humor, it has moments of poignancy, it’s based on a true story that so many people in our country have lived through. And you’re going to see 100 minutes of just pure, pure kindness. It will reinstill your faith in humanity. It really will.
And if you’re having a bad day, you want to watch Come From Away, that’s for sure.