Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau sat beside Ivanka Trump in the Wednesday night audience at Broadway musical “Come From Away” — and the pairing took on a political resonance at a show about Canadian inclusiveness and international cooperation.
Trudeau had been expected to attend the performance as part of a large group brought to the show by the Canadian consulate general. However, the appearance of Trump, a close adviser to her father, President Donald Trump, was a surprise. She attended with Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations.
The message of the feel-good musical, about a tiny Canadian town banding together to host a deluge of rerouted air travelers in the immediate wake of 9/11, had added weight given the Trump administration’s current stance on immigration and the Canadian government’s more welcoming position. Based on a true story, “Come From Away” depicts a diverse crowd of distressed travelers — including a Muslim chef — all finding acceptance in the remote village of Gander.
The neighboring nations of the U.S. and Canada have a historically close relationship, but under the Trump administration, the two countries have differed on issues including immigration and trade. Although that knowledge was surely in the minds of audience members at “Come From Away” Wednesday night, Trudeau didn’t mention politics specifically in his brief address to the crowd just prior to the show.
“There is no relationship quite like the friendship between Canada and the United States,” he said from the stage. In “Come From Away,” he noted, “The world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each through the darkest times.”
It’s rare for an official of a foreign government to show up at a Broadway show, but it’s relatively common for American political figures. The Obamas attended productions several times when Barack Obama was in office (and continue to take in shows now), and Hillary Clinton and her family are regulars at the theater. President Trump has yet to make an appearance at a Broadway show since his election; last year Mike Pence, then the vice-president-elect, caused a stir when he attended “Hamilton.”