Concord native appears in Broadway’s ‘Come from Away’

  • Geno Carr (second from left) found his way to Broadway through his role of Oz in the La Jolla Playhouse’s musical “Come From Away” in 2015. Courtesy of Kevin Berne

  • The cast of “Come From Away” includes Concord native Geno Carr (right) as Oz, a police officer in Gander, Newfoundland. Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

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    The cast of "Come From Away" includes Concord-native Geno Carr (kneeling at right) as Oz, a police officer in Gander, Newfoundland. —Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

  • The cast of “Come From Away” on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Concord native Geno Carr portrays a police officer and other characters. Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Monitor staff
Published: 3/29/2017 5:27:22 PM

Decades ago, Van McLeod visited Concord elementary schools as an artist-in-residence to teach children about what goes into a theater production.

McLeod, the former commissioner of the state Department of Cultural Resources, died last year, but his lessons live on.

In particular, one of the boys who sat in those classes years ago made his Broadway debut this month.

Geno Carr, 39, is performing in Come From Away at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York.

Carr credited McLeod with spurring his interest in theater. And he’s made his own progress since that elementary school Christmas pageant.

After graduating from Concord High School, where he played Conrad Birdie in a run of Bye Bye Birdie, Carr attended Hardwick College for music and theater. He later earned a master’s degree in acting and directing from Sarah Lawrence College. He’s taught at art schools and colleges. He’s directed. And he’s performed in dozens of shows.

In 2015, while living in San Diego as his wife Nancy finished her master’s degree in musical theater, Carr earned his spot as Oz in the La Jolla Playhouse’s world premier of Come From Away.

Come From Away, written by Canadian husband and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff, tells the story of the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland. On Sept. 11, 2001, as news of the attacks on New York, the Pentagon and elsewhere spread, planes in the air were diverted.

Some 6,700 passengers landed and were welcomed with opened arms by the residents of Gander (population 11,000).

Together, Canadians and passengers process the tragedy and upheaval.

“It’s a story about community and generosity,” Carr said.

The twelve actors in the show play multiple roles as passengers aboard the plane and Canadian residents. 

Carr plays Oz, one of two police officers in town. He also plays a rabbi, a Spanish teacher and several other roles.

As an actor, it’s a fun challenge to play all the roles in one show, he said.

Most of the original cast stayed together as the show moved from San Diego to Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., and Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Ontario.

“It’s such a wonderful show to be a part of,” Carr said. “It’s a real family.”

Then, the show was invited to New York.

Carr said that taking a full show like that to Broadway is rare.

“I consider myself the winner of the lottery,” he said.

Since the cast has been performing together for the last couple years, the transition to Broadway was a lot faster than typical of productions.

“This is a very unique show,” Carr said.

They practiced in the studio for two days before going into a week of technical rehearsals, Carr said. Then the show was already into the previews.

“It feels really comfortable,” Carr said of the show, then the realization sets in that you’re on Broadway.

He’s since relocated to the city with his wife, young son and dog.

“We’re hoping for a long run,” Carr said.

Come from Away has an open run at the Schoenfeld Theatre. If you happen to be in New York and want to see the Concord native in action, tickets for the show range from $47 to $167.

You’ll be in good company, too. Famous guests have been coming to watch the production, which has received mainly positive reviews. Carr said “you never know who you’re after the show.”

On March 15, in a planned engagement with 125 ambassadors, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought a surprise guest, first daughter Ivanka Trump, to the show.

In remarks before the production, Trudeau said, “there is no relationship quite like the friendship between Canada and the United States. This story, this amazing show, is very much about that, and it’s about friendship as well.”

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