Just a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, actors are taking the stage in a new play highlighting the heroism, resilience and determination of dozens of survivors of the 2013 marathon bombings.
Their remarkable tales have gone largely unnoticed — until now.
Creators of "Finish Line: The Untold Stories of the 2013 Boston Marathon," spent months interviewing survivors, doctors, runners, police officers and family members — turning their first-person accounts into a powerful, two-hour documentary-style stage show. The Boston Theater Company's production is in previews this month and will have its world premiere in 2017.
Numerous books and even a forthcoming movie, "Patriots Day," starring Mark Wahlberg, tell the story of the chaotic events of April 15 and the manhunt that followed for Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers behind the terror attack that claimed three lives and wounded 260 others.
Tamerlan was killed in a police shootout, while Dzhokhar is on death row after being found guilty a year ago in the bombing.
Play co-creator Joey Frangieh said he didn't want to focus on the horror or the perpetrators behind it but sought to tell the stories of the heroes and "focus on the good and kindness of that day — and not let fear guide us or divide us."
The play opens on the morning of the bombing, with 10 actors introducing the 35 people whose stories bear witness to the twin blasts that detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The ability to do this and share their real words was exciting, said Joe Spaulding, CEO of Citi Performing Arts Center, which is supporting the show.
He told NBC News that he hopes seeing the stories told in this unique way will help the city in its healing process — just as the three-year anniversary looms.
The real-life survivors, who are the heart of the inspirational stories, include:
- Lee Ann Yanni, a physical therapist, was outside Marathon Sports watching some of her clients run the race when she heard an explosion. Her leg was seriously injured, a nerve was severed in two spots and she had other serious injuries. She recounts the moments after the blasts, and is lighthearted about some of the specifics. A determined Yanni ran the marathon in 2014.
- Dr. Scott Weisburg is a family physician from Birmingham, Alabama. He was running the race during the explosion and immediately ran to the medical tent to provide assistance. He was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and a concussion connected to his hearing. When he returned home, he felt isolated where no one else had experienced the events in Boston. He said: "There's nobody in Alabama that understands. ... The city of Boston does."
- Maria Stephanos is a local news anchor who was on her day off as she stood at the finish line waiting for her husband. When the bombs went off, she had an internal conflict as she was with her children but was also a reporter on the scene of a major news event. After taking a few pictures, she left the race site to drop her kids off, called her station and went live on the air. She said of people's strong-willed spirit: "You have to go back, you have to take it back. You can't be afraid of it. I think it made us stronger as a city.
Actress Amie Lyle, who plays five different characters in the play, said she hopes people who come to experience the show take away the fact that there was so much good that came out of the tragedy.
"Boston remains strong," she said, "and through this show, we're taking Boston back."