— Michael Paulson (@MichaelPaulson) March 16, 2017
Was it a night on the town? A teachable moment? Or maybe a little of both.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited First Daughter Ivanka Trump to join him (and a delegation of 600 others, including 125 United Nations ambassadors) at Broadway's “Come From Away” Wednesday night. The show, based on a true story, takes place in Gander, Newfoundland, right after Sept. 11, 2001. In the hours after the attacks, the U.S. closed its airspace, forcing that small Canadian town to accommodate some 6,700 travelers from diverted flights.
It's a “feel-good 9/11 musical,” the New York Times wrote (it meant that as a compliment!) with a clear message: welcome the stranger. Embrace (ahem) the foreigner.
The play has been getting rave reviews, in no small part because of its political implications. “We are now in a moment in which millions of immigrants are homeless and denied entry to increasingly xenophobic nations, including the United States.," the Times wrote. “A tale of an insular populace that doesn’t think twice before opening its arms to an international throng of strangers automatically acquires a near-utopian nimbus.”
Perhaps that's what Trudeau was thinking when he invited Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., to join him Wednesday night.
It's not Trump and Trudeau's first time together. The pair first met right around Valentine's Day, during the Canadian leader's first trip to the White House. The two sat on a panel about women in the workforce. By all accounts, things went really well.
In his brief remarks before the show, Trudeau praised the show's story as a tale of North American friendship, according to the New York Times. “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, according to the paper. “There is no relationship quite like the friendship between Canada and the United States … this story, this amazing show, is very much about that, and it’s about friendship as well.”
Trudeau has been treading a fine line in talks with his American counterparts, emphasizing the importance of a strong bilateral relationship while pushing a gentler stance on a range of issues. Trump also attended the show just hours after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's second executive order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations.
Trudeau was, apparently, a hit with the largely Canadian audience, who gave him a standing ovation. Some audience members came decked out in maple leaf attire; others proudly waved miniature Canadian flags. And as for Ivanka's take on the show?