“Welcome to the Rock.” AKA – welcome to a collaboration with Esta (Mom) and Aaron (son). Both saw COME FROM AWAY on Broadway with the original cast. Here’s their take of the show released on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
WHERE WERE YOU ON 9/11:
AARON: Mom, before we dive into the review, I can’t remember – where were you on 9/11?
ESTA: I was in my classroom teaching theatre. I left for school and heard on the way that something was up, so when I got to my class, I turned on the TV. I stood there in shock while 35 to 40 teenagers were looking at me for guidance. I was scared for our future, and I didn’t know how to respond to them. I remember I said over and over the world will never be the same. And I know I told them we will get through this. I remember being calm outside but wanting to break down and weep for the lost lives.
Each hour another group of students was in my classroom. It got harder and harder to keep my mask on. We all cried throughout the day for the people who died. It was heartbreaking. I hugged all of them and told them I loved them.
AARON: Wow, that had to be so hard. I remember you had just taken your students to New York and toured the World Trade Center the year before. I know this because I foolishly decided to stay home alone instead of going.
ESTA: Yes, you were stubborn. 😂
AARON: As for me, I was 21 and in Hollywood living with my roommate. I had just graduated film school and was working at Blockbuster Video to pay the bills. That day, I had an interview for a production assistant gig on a short-lived TV series, WORST-CASE SCENARIO. Everyone told me not to go, but I did. I got there, and the office was a ghost town, except for the woman set to interview me. She was shocked that I showed up. Five minutes into the interview, she started to sob and told me that her boyfriend was in New York, and she couldn’t get in touch with him. As I tried to apologize, she quickly asked me if I wanted to be a researcher on the show. I said, sure. She then told me my salary and said I could start on Monday. To this day, I still feel guilty for getting a job on the day the rest of the world suffered. I also later found out that her boyfriend was okay.
MOM: You shouldn’t feel guilty. You should feel proud you went in when the rest of the world stayed home afraid. You deserved the job.
AARON: It’s a tie between WELCOME TO THE ROCK and ME AND THE SKY. The opening song, WELCOME TO THE ROCK, is toe-tapping feel-good inspiring, and ME AND THE SKY is the heartfelt moment for the show’s MVP, Jenn Colella.
ESTA: This is hard because I love so many of them, and I can’t name just one. I loved THE PRAYER because it showed how the world should be allowing all people to worship as they want. The combinations of different songs together were elevating and made my soul soar. Just like you, I also loved the opening number, WELCOME TO THE ROCK, and the FINALE. The drums, the beat, the defiant attitude of confidence and strength.
WHAT MOMENT MADE YOU 😢 :
ESTA: It has to be Hannah (Q Smith) singing, I AM HERE. It is hard living far away from your child, and at that moment, I felt her pain as she ached to be where he was. I cried during that song and when she found out about his death and told Beulah. I know the pain from my similar loss, and it hits home every time.
AARON: Dang it, mom, I’m about to cry just from your response. The FINALE song is the moment that got me. The culmination of all the stories told through music. The theme – “We honor what is lost, but we commemorate what was found” sings loudly and will stay in my heart forever.
HOW IS THE RECORDING COMPARED TO THE BROADWAY SHOW:
ESTA: There is no comparison. There is nothing like being in the audience of a Broadway show. There is so much excitement and anticipation. It is palatable. When you hear the drums at the beginning, the theatre seems to shake and come alive. The voices, the energy, the words hit you. You feel involved and a part of whatever is happening on stage. It is magical and mesmerizing. The actors and the audience feed off of each other, and it builds throughout the performance.
I already have my tickets for COME FROM AWAY for August 2022 to see it again live.
AARON: Damn, you win. Despite this perfect capturing of the Broadway show, there will always be “Something Missing” if you don’t see it in the theatre.
AARON: COME FROM AWAY is the healing moment the nation needs on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Watching this reminded me that the entire world was “here, at the start of a moment.” That moment may be over today, but I will always feel like a Newfoundlander in my heart. Or at the very least, do my best to live my life like one.
ESTA: I loved COME FROM AWAY. It was so well done. It gave you the perspective of seeing the entire stage and not zeroing in on any one actor. It allowed you to view it as a whole production. It is so well-written, using humor to get us through the darkest moments of our history. I loved the casting. People looked real in all sizes, shapes, ages, and gender.
It is an inspiring musical. It shows how all of us can rise to any occasion and be our best to all humanity. We all do COME FROM AWAY, and it is how we perceive each other that makes us better people, allowing us the gift of calling this planet our home.
It’s available on Apple TV+ and Broadway.