When the tragic terrorist attack known as “9-11” took place, thousands of flights were cancelled, turned back or rediverted. A total of 38 planes carrying 6,579 passengers and crew landed in Gander, a small town with a population of less than 10,000, on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. Once it became apparent that none of these planes were about to take off any time soon, the passengers disembarked and were cared for by the people of Gander and neighbouring towns until their planes were finally allowed to leave five days later. Long-lasting friendships were formed with many of these stranded “come from awayers” who returned to Gander to commemorate the tenth anniversary.
Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein travelled to Gander with the intent to capture their stories, interviewing both the Newfoundlanders and the “come from awayers”. With hundreds of hours of interviews, they created the musical Come From Away. This award winning musical has received great critical acclaim and has sold out seasons around the world. It’s also put Gander and Newfoundland on the tourist map, with fans of the musical travelling to the island for a Come From Away experience.
Helping to retell their story are Oz Fudge and Brian Mosher. We first met Oz Fudge and Brian Mosher when Come From Away made its Australian premiere at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District. Following sold out seasons, and numerous COVID disruptions, the musical has returned to Australia and Oz Fudge and Brian Mosher travelled down under once again. Reconnecting with them years later was like catching up with old friends.
Oz Fudge was Gander’s police officer at the time of 9-11. His character is portrayed in the musical Come From Away. Brian Mosher was the media teacher at the local high school and also a reporter on Gander’s community tv station. In the musical, Brian Mosher’s character is combined with Janice Goudie, a news reporter on her first day in this job. While Janice was out interviewing, Brian was putting out live news shows on the local cable channel. Their two stories are told in the musical through the character “Janice Mosher”.
Brian Mosher was contacted by the Oprah Winfrey show and supplied the only available footage for the rest of the world. He still has that answering machine message, and shared the recording with us. The success of the musical has resulted in some incredible opportunities for the people of Gander. Oz Fudge and Brian Mosher see themselves as just normal folk and still find it weird when complete strangers recognise them. They share their experiences with us in this video interview:
With the sudden fame of being recognised, they’ve also had some rather unusual requests – even being asked to sign body parts!
“We’re not rock stars … we just live on a rock!” Oz Fudge laughed.
While Come From Away resulted in an incredible tourism boost for Newfoundland, COVID has had a devastating impact. They share how COVID has impacted them, and the connection between Newfoundlanders and Australians.
Come From Away is now playing in Australia. As Oz Fudge and Brian Mosher say, “It’s the story the world needs to hear.”
On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.
Come From Away is currently playing at HOTA, Gold Coast ahead of seasons in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and then New Zealand.
For more information: https://comefromaway.com.au/
Interviewer: Tabitha Hilbig