It’s the story of a remote Canadian town that – at a moment when the world was gripped by fear of terrorism – put aside fear-mongering and welcomed thousands of strangers from abroad.
Come from Away is a Broadway musical about the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, which took in 6,579 passengers after US airspace was closed.
On Wednesday, the show’s audience included Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, and Ivanka Trump, who arrived shortly after a federal court in Hawaii ordered a nationwide halt on the Trump administration’s proposed ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries.
The irony that the president’s daughter should take in a show on welcoming foreigners – even as her father fights to bar millions from entering the US – was not lost on many.
“Today is a weird day for Ivanka to be at something called We Come from Away,” one person wrote on Twitter. The “day her daddy’s Muslim ban got shot down again, she saw a show about welcoming strangers,” noted another.
Canadian officials had invited some 600 people to the show, including Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, and more than 100 other UN ambassadors as well as politicians from both sides of the border.
The surprise pairing of Trump and Trudeau at the show was “rich with symbolism”, the New York Times noted.
The storyline showcases the bonds forged as residents opened their doors to strangers from more than 100 countries, including a Muslim man who was initially treated with hostility and suspicion after he was heard speaking Arabic on the phone and a gay couple worried about how the seemingly conservative community would see them.
As Ivanka Trump watched the musical, her father was leading a raucous rally in Nashville, slamming the court ruling as an “unprecedented judicial overreach” and vowing to fight back.
Still, some held hope that the show’s message might help sway the president’s daughter, who has become a key adviser to the Trump team.
In a tweet directed at Trudeau and the cast of the show, one Twitter user wrote: “Thank you for showing Ivanka what it means to be Canadian (& what it used to mean to be American!)” Another added: “Hopefully its message resonated with the audience (Read:Ivanka).”