Emily Walton acts in a Broadway musical about positive things arising out of dark moments. The production is “Come From Away,” which tells the true story of how Gander, Newfoundland, rose to the moment when 38 airliners diverted there after the United States closed its airspace following the Sept. 11 attacks.
In real life, Gander opened its arms to 6,500 visitors. People welcomed strangers into their homes, gave them books and blankets, lent them cars, laughed and prayed with them, and baked lots of tea cakes. It was kindness that had a permanent effect on recipients and givers, as the Monitor’s Sara Miller Llana reported last year.
Ms. Walton plays “Janice,” a TV journalist, in “Come From Away.” But in March 2020, she – and everyone else on Broadway – faced unemployment as theaters closed due to the pandemic.
Ms. Walton decided to try to get something good out of the bad time, just as characters did in her show. She finished her college degree online at Southern New Hampshire University, 13 years after dropping out to follow her acting dream.
Broadway lights are back on now. On Jan. 21, the president of SNHU surprised Ms. Walton onstage at the end of the show with a cap, gown, and diploma. She cried as she realized she was finally graduating.
“It’s actually made me a better person to be part of this show because ... [it] makes you realize that being kind is so easy and celebrating each other’s accomplishments and joys is so rewarding, and I just kind of think it’s what life is about,” she said afterward.