Arts & Entertainment

He's Anxious to See This Musical, Because He Lived It!

Grounded in Canada on 9/11, Pittsburgh man recognizes his story in "Come From Away"

There's a musical opening in Pittsburgh tonight, and Dr. John Chips and his wife Mary Beth are going to the show. Even though Dr. Chips has never seen it, he knows how the story will turn out. Because he lived it!


The musical is called Come From Away and it's set in the week following the September 11 attacks. It tells the true story of what happened when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in the province of Newfoundland, Canada forcing the residents to feed and house some 7,000 stranded strangers.

On 9/11, Dr. Chips was headed back from vacation in Scotland with his late father, who was in his 70's. By the time their flight was ordered grounded, there was no more room in Gander, so they landed in the town of Stephenville, about 4 hours away,. He and Mary Ann recounted the story for us.

Dr. Chips, who owns a dental practice in the Pittsburgh suburb of Gibsonia, says the refugees had only the clothes on their backs. Their suitcases were seized and they were questioned, since no one knew at that point whether there were other terrorist planes The townspeople of Stephenville provided them with everything they needed, even his father's high blood pressure medicine. Someone gave his dad a jacket, which Chips has kept.

"We need good news every once in a while so we realize we're all human.The same." -- Dr. John Chips

The couple expects that the show -- even though it's based on Gander -- will mirror Chips' experience in Stephenville.�He got emotional when we asked what he hopes other people who see Come From Away will, literally, come away with.

Come From Away is playing at the Benedum Theater in downtown Pittsburgh tonight through Sunday. It's almost sold out, but there might be a few tickets left -- click here to purchase.

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