No New­found­lan­ders in Toronto ‘Come From Away’ cast

‘We re­ally tried to give peo­ple an ex­tra bunch of bonus points if they came from New­found­land,’ cre­ators say

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PERSPECTIVES - BY TARA BRADBURY THE TELE­GRAM

The cre­ators of Broad­way sen­sa­tion “Come From Away” say they gave ex­tra points to New­found­lan­ders when se­lect­ing per­form­ers for the Toronto pro­duc­tion of the show, but none made it to the cast list.

Mirvish Pro­duc­tions an­nounced an all-Cana­dian cast for the Toronto ver­sion of “Come From Away” on Wed­nes­day, with some ac­com­plished and well-known names.

“De­grassi” ac­tress El­iza-Jane Scott will play pi­lot Bev­er­ley Bass, a role played on Broad­way by Tony-nom­i­nated ac­tress Jen Colella.

Ge­orge Mass­wohl will play Gan­der Mayor Claude El­liott and a se­ries of other may­ors in the show, while Lisa Horner will play Gan­der res­i­dent Beu­lah Cooper.

For­mer “Cana­dian Idol” fi­nal­ist St­effi DiDomeni­can­to­nio will take the role of TV re­porter Jan­ice, while Kris­ten Peace will play the role of SPCA worker Bon­nie Har­ris.

Other per­form­ers in­clude Jack Nose­wor­thy, Ali Momen, Bar­bara Fulton, James Kall, Sac­cha Den­nis, Kevin Vi­dal and Cory O’Brien.

A num­ber of New­found­land per­form­ers auditioned for the Toronto cast and some of those re­ceived call­backs, but they weren’t ul­ti­mately se­lected.

Kate Eti­enne, who lived in Corner Brook (her fa­ther, Jerry, is founder of the Gros Morne Theatre Fes­ti­val and teaches theatre at MUN’s Gren­fell Cam­pus), has been hired as an al­ter­nate for the Toronto pro­duc­tion, to sub in as needed.

“It’s so hard, some­times peo­ple come in and they just fit a role. We re­ally tried to give peo­ple an ex­tra bunch of bonus points if they came from New­found­land,” Irene Sankoff, who cre­ated “Come From Away” with her hus­band, David Hein, told The Tele­gram in New York last month af­ter the Tony Awards.

The awards show saw “Come From Away” di­rec­tor Christo­pher Ash­ley — who is also di­rect­ing the Toronto ver­sion — win the Tony for best di­rec­tion of a mu­si­cal.

“We saw so much tal­ent from out there, but it’s such a puz­zle piece,” added Hein. “It can’t just be one as­pect. We saw so many good peo­ple, and there are some in­ter­est­ing an­nounce­ments to come. Peo­ple want to be in this show and to rep­re­sent.”

With­out giv­ing names, Sankoff said a cou­ple of New­found­lan­ders turned down spots in the Toronto pro­duc­tion.

“We reached out to them and asked them to be in the show, and they wanted to ei­ther stay in Strat­ford or had re­lo­cated to the States and didn’t want to come home,” she said, adding there are a cou­ple of New­found­lan­ders in the Toronto “Come From Away” band.

“We made that step, that ex­tra reach, but at the end of the day you’ve got to think of the pro­duc­tion as a whole.”

Set in Gan­der, N.L., in the af­ter­math of the Sept. 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, “Come From Away” tells the story of how the town and nearby com­mu­ni­ties em­braced close to 7,000 pas­sen­gers and crew from 38 planes di­verted to the area when Amer­i­can air space was closed.

The mu­si­cal has won al­most ev­ery “best mu­si­cal” award in North Amer­ica over the past year, in­clud­ing the Drama Desk, Outer Crit­ics Cir­cle, He­len Hayes, Gypsy Rose Lee, San Diego Crit­ics Cir­cle and Dora awards. It was nom­i­nated for best mu­si­cal (and six other awards) at the Tonys.

There are two New­found­lan­ders in the Broad­way cast: ac­tress Pet­rina Brom­ley and per­cus­sion­ist Ro­mano Di Nillo.

The Toronto pro­duc­tion of “Come From Away” will pre­view for a short en­gage­ment in Win­nipeg in Jan­uary 2018, be­fore open­ing at Toronto’s Royal Alexan­dra Theatre Feb. 13.

In Oc­to­ber 2018, a tour­ing pro­duc­tion of the show will launch at Seat­tle’s 5th Av­enue Theatre and travel the con­ti­nent. Stops an­nounced so far in­clude Van­cou­ver, Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton and Ot­tawa, though none in New­found­land and Labrador.

Last fall, the Broad­way cast per­formed two con­cert per­for­mances in Gan­der, N.L. be­fore the show opened in New York, with all money raised from ticket sales do­nated to lo­cal char­i­ties.

“If it was up to us, we’d be (in New­found­land) in a heart­beat, our en­tire team, liv­ing there,” Hein said.

“It’s not our money,” Sankoff added. “But we’d love to come back to New­found­land.”

TARA BRADBURY FILE PHOTO/THE TELE­GRAM

Hus­band and wife duo David Hein and Irene Sankoff are the cre­ators of “Come From Away.” A Toronto pro­duc­tion of the show is set to open in Fe­bru­ary.

KEITH GOSSE FILE PHOTO/THE TELE­GRAM

Ac­tress Pet­rina Brom­ley is part of the Broad­way cast of the ac­claimed mu­si­cal “Come From Away.”

TARA BRADBURY FILE PHOTO/THE TELE­GRAM

Ro­mano Di Nillo, a per­cus­sion­ist in the pro­duc­tion of the pop­u­lar Broad­way play “Come From Away,” stands out­side the Ger­ald Schoen­feld Theatre in New York City.

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