Marika Aubrey didn’t know much about the musical “Come From Away” or its backstory when she auditioned for the show’s national tour in 2018.
“I wasn’t at all familiar with it, not at all,” she says. “Growing up in Australia, we didn’t know much about Newfoundland, Canada, I’m ashamed to say.”
Still, she landed the tour of “Come From Away,” and despite a hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s still with it six years later.
“I’ve been in America several years now, but I’ve actually only had one production to my name, and that’s ‘Come From Away,’” says Aubrey, whose work in Australia included “Matilda” for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Australian production of Lincoln Center’s “South Pacific.”
The national tour of “Come From Away” has performances Tuesday, March 14, through Sunday, March 19, at the BJCC Concert Hall, part of the Broadway in Birmingham season.
The show, based on fact, tells the stories of hundreds of air travelers who were diverted to and stranded in the town of Gander on the island of Newfoundland after the events of 9/11.
“You hear about a musical being about that subject matter and you think, uh, probably not,” Aubrey says. “But what most people don’t realize is it’s really about what happened in the days afterward, and it’s about this remote patch of the Earth that happened to be thrust into a key supporting role in those days, how these people all connected and made the best out of a really strange situation.”
The show features 12 actors on stage, each playing a number of characters. Aubrey’s roles included that of Capt. Beverly Bass, the Texan who was the first female pilot of an American Airlines plane.
“I didn’t know anything about her at all, but we spent a lot of time together, and I can call her a friend,” Aubrey says. “One of the funniest things she says to me is, ‘I just don’t know how you do what you do, getting up in front of all of those people and singing.’ I tell her, ‘What are you talking about? You fly jets. I would feel much more nervous about flying an airplane.’”
Aubrey was actually able to play the role on Broadway in December 2021 and January 2022. She was in New York spending Christmas with her family, when the Omicron variant of COVID-19 began taking its toll on the “Come From Away” cast.
“I was making my Broadway debut, and it wasn’t even the regular company,” she says. “It was this real Frankencast of people, standbys and understudies and swings and others. It was such an enriching and inspiring and really fun experience. It felt like the feeling you have when you’re a kid and you’re putting on a show and no one really knows what they’re doing, but you’re getting it done, and it’s so fun.”
Aubrey has been working six years with “Come From Away,” which she says “has such a lovely heart and humanity to it,” and she says her time with the cast in the show has been much the same.
“Though we shut down during the pandemic, it’s been six years, which is unheard of,” Aubrey says. “It has been a tremendous amount of change and transition, and we’ve all supported each other through a lot of life stuff. I can’t imagine another pocket of time where it will span so much tragedy and triumph. … I think this one, when I’m 80 years old, will be the one that captured so much life, as well as humanity.”