Husband-and-wife duo Irene Sankoff and David Hein made their Broadway writing debut with the season’s surprise hit, Come From Away. The story about the 38 planes diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada after U.S. airspace closed on September 11 manages to chronicle the factual accounts of dozens of Newfoundlanders and “Come from aways,” while still resonating on a deep emotional level.
In the video above, they tell us how.
As a new writer, Sankoff believes her ability to listen helped craft a Tony-worthy book to the musical. “I think David and I spent a lot of time at day jobs out in the real world and I think being able to communicate with people and tell stories that are relevant comes from being out and not closing yourself in,” she says.
Hein finds the personal connections the most rewarding about his experience writing the show. “There’s something wonderful about writing a show where you fall in love with the people you’re writing about and honoring the characters and wanting it to be a show they would want to see,” he says.
Come From Away was nominated for Best Musical and earned nods for Sankoff and Hein for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. And while they’re reeling over the nominations for their debut, they’re beaming with pride. “Most of all, it’s a celebration of not just the work that we’ve done in six years … but Best Musical nominations are about celebrating everyone who’s worked on it for years and over five cities,” says Hein. “Beyond that, we’re happy that the show about Newfoundland, these people who did so much for the world, is being recognized.”