No New­found­lan­ders in Toronto ‘Come From Away’ cast

The Western Star - - Close To Home - BY TARA BRAD­BURY

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 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.

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 SaltWire Net­work 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.”

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.

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