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Justin Trudeau Brings Ivanka Trump to Broadway Show on Welcoming Outsiders
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, whose emphasis on welcoming refugees has been at odds with the harsher stance of the Trump administration, on Wednesday night brought Ivanka Trump to a Broadway show that celebrates generosity toward foreigners in need.
The surprise pairing at the new musical “Come From Away” was rich with symbolism, as Mr. Trudeau tries to maintain his country’s close relationship with the United States despite substantial differences in public policy. Ms. Trump, the president’s daughter and a close adviser, sat in Row F between Mr. Trudeau and Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, and directly behind a former Canadian prime minister, Jean Chrétien.
In brief remarks from the stage before the performance, Mr. Trudeau did not discuss government policy explicitly. Instead he focused on praising the show’s story, about a small town in Newfoundland that fed and housed thousands of air travelers from around the world, diverted when North American airspace was closed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“The world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau, who was seeing the musical for the first time, said he also saw it as a demonstration of the importance of close relations between Canada and the United States.
“There is no relationship quite like the friendship between Canada and the United States,” he said. “This story, this amazing show, is very much about that, and it’s about friendship as well.”
Mr. Trudeau’s celebration of a show about Canadians opening their borders and homes to foreigners in need comes at a complex moment for his country’s relationship with its southern neighbor. Beyond the Trump administration’s demands for reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement, its ban on immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries, blocked on Wednesday by a federal judge, has set off a surge in asylum seekers fleeing from the United States to Canada, where they have largely been welcomed.
Mr. Trudeau, who was greeted at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater with a sustained standing ovation, led a delegation of 600 people – including more than 125 ambassadors to the United Nations – brought to the show on Wednesday by the Canadian consulate general in New York. The audience was filled with exuberant Canadians, some bearing flags or wearing clothing decorated with the maple leaf.
“Come From Away” is written by a married Canadian couple, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and tells a distinctly Canadian story. The show also depicts the shame that Muslim air travelers feel at being singled out for scrutiny; cheers the welcome given a gay couple in Newfoundland; and features a black passenger worried about being mistaken for a thief and being shot – all issues that have deep resonance during the Trump era, with critics of the new administration skeptical of the president’s understanding of those concerns.
The show opened on March 12 and received a positive review in The New York Times. The critic Ben Brantley called it a “big bearhug of a musical.”
The show had several pre-Broadway productions, including one in Toronto from November 2016 through January 2017, and is scheduled to open another production in Toronto next February.
It is rare, but not unprecedented, for a foreign head of government to attend a Broadway show. Last year, Mr. Trudeau and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel attended “Hamilton.”