Irene Sankoff
Alma materYork University
Occupation(s)Librettist, composer
Notable workCome from Away
SpouseDavid Hein

Irene Sankoff is a Canadian librettist and composer–lyricist, best known for co-writing the Broadway musical Come from Away with her writing partner and husband, David Hein.[1]


Sankoff was born in North York, Ontario, and double-majored in psychology and creative writing at York University, where she met Hein.[2] After graduating, the couple moved to New York City in 1999 where he worked at a music studio and she studied at the Actors Studio and performed in theatres. They were in New York City during the September 11 attacks.[2]

After spending several years studying and working in New York the couple returned to Toronto where Hein wrote a song, "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding", about his mother and her later life partner. Sankoff and Hein expanded the song into a play that became a hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2009 and then picked up by Mirvish Productions for a run at Toronto's Panasonic Theatre before touring Canada.[3][4][5]

As a result of My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding's success, theatre producer Michael Rubinoff approached Hein and Sankoff with his idea about a show based on Operation Yellow Ribbon in which residents of Gander, Newfoundland, housed 7,000 airline passengers who had been stranded at Gander Airport as a result of the grounding of all North American air flights following the September 11 attacks.[6] The couple visited Gander in 2011 during the 10-year reunion of passengers and locals, and subsequently wrote Come from Away based on the stories they learned there.[7]


Sankoff and Hein won two Drama Desk awards, one for Outstanding Musical and one for Outstanding Book of a Musical, for Come from Away in 2017.[8] That same year, they were nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics.[9] They were also nominated for the 2017 Tony Awards Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.[10] Come From Away also won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Music at the 2019 Laurence Olivier Awards.[11]


  1. ^ Morrow, Martin (March 30, 2017). "Q&A: Irene Sankoff and David Hein, creators of the Toronto-born Broadway hit Come From Away". Toronto Life. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Nestruck, J. Kelly (February 17, 2017). "Landing on their feet". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  3. ^ "W5: My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding hits main stage". CTV News. November 21, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Review: My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding". CBC News. May 11, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Ouzounian, Richard (December 14, 2015). "From Sept. 11 tragedy, a theatrical triumph". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Wong, Tony (November 13, 2016). "From Gander to Broadway". Toronto Star. p. E2. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "From Gander to Broadway" Archived November 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Toronto Star, November 13, 2016, Page E2. Tony Wong.
  8. ^ "Irene Sankoff Biography on". Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  9. ^ Rosky, Nicole. "Breaking: HELLO, DOLLY!, ANASTASIA, COME FROM AWAY Lead the Pack in Drama Desk Awards Nominations!". Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  10. ^ Rosky, Nicole. "The 2017 Tony Awards - And the Nominees Are... Complete List! NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 and HELLO, DOLLY! Lead Pack". Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  11. ^ Rooney, David (2019-04-07). "Olivier Awards 2019: Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2022-03-05.