Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — along with first daughter Ivanka Trump as a guest — attended a new musical Come From Away on Wednesday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in Manhattan, New York.
The musical celebrates Canadian compassion and openness to international travellers following the 11 September attacks.
The musical is set in the small Newfoundland town of Gander, which opened its arms and homes to some 7,000 airline passengers diverted there when the US government shut down its airspace. In a matter of a few hours, the town was overwhelmed by 38 planeloads of travellers from dozens of countries and religions, and yet, locals went to work in their kitchens and cleaned up spare rooms.
Right before the show, Trudeau got on the stage and said he was pleased that, "the world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times."
The show got a standing ovation, including one from Ivanka Trump, who sat near Trudeau, his wife and UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Also in attendance was Jean Chretien, a former Canadian Prime Minister, and the Mayor of Gander. Trump was seen clapping along happily as the band played at the curtain call.
Trudeau, who champions global free trade, and has welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees, was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation, and also hoped to reaffirm the special friendship between Canadians and Americans.
A cast of a dozen played both residents and marooned passengers in the show, telling true stories of generosity, compassion and acceptance, while fear and suspicion reigned in America.
The show arrives just as the debate over immigration and open borders has reignited, following the Trump administration's push for a ban on travellers from six predominantly Muslim nations.
Trudeau's warm reception was in contrast to the ones that greeted two other world leaders who recently attended the Broadway smash Hamilton — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Both received more than a smattering of boos.