OAKVILLE, ON – When the hit Broadway musical Come From Away makes its long awaited return to Toronto, Sheridan will have numerous reasons to celebrate.
The new production, which opens at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on February 13 (and runs concurrently with the show that continues to play to sold out audiences on Broadway) features an all-Canadian cast, including seven Sheridan alumni and faculty in the mix.
Eliza Jane Scott, who plays both the role of American Airlines pilot Beverley Bass and Annette, is a part time instructor in Sheridan’s Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance Program. Ali Momen, who plays both Kevin J. and Ali, and Saccha Dennis who plays Hannah are alumni of the program. Standbys in the cast include part time faculty member Jeff Madden as well as Sheridan alumni Kate Etienne, Amir Haidar and Sue Dunston, who was also part of the Original Broadway Cast of Come From Away.
Casting for the new production playing in Toronto was done by Sheridan alumna Stephanie Gorin who is an Emmy award winner and five-time Emmy nominee.
“We will forever be proud that this is a musical that got its start at Sheridan,” said Dr. Mary Preece, President and Vice Chancellor. “It’s a testament to the creativity and innovation that have been embedded in our institutional DNA since our founding.”
In 2012, the musical was first developed at Sheridan’s Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP), Canada’s first and largest permanent headquarters for the development of new musicals. As an incubator, it brings writers, composers and lyricists to campus for a five-week workshop in which music theatre performance students contribute to the development process as part of their capstone learning experience. The idea for the show, and the invitation to its writers to workshop their musical through the CMTP came from the incubator’s founder and current Producing Artistic Director Michael Rubinoff.
Come From Away was presented in a reading format during the last production slot of the 2012 Theatre Sheridan season, so that the writers could learn from the audience’s reaction. In 2013, Come From Away returned to Sheridan as a fully realized two-act production, running on the Theatre Sheridan stage and featuring Sheridan students who auditioned for the parts.
Sheridan’s connection to, and belief in the show, prompted it to become one of many investors backing the Broadway production, which recouped in record time, as well as in the second, Canadian production which could recoup as early as June.
“Our involvement as a producer is a perfect example of how Sheridan can foster a perpetual loop of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Brian Jervis, Vice Provost Research at Sheridan. “It’s incredible that a show that first got its start at Sheridan has grown to a US$60 million venture. The proceeds that we’re generating will be used to further fuel our CMTP incubator, which helps ensure that new musical works continue to be created in Canada. Involving students in the process also enriches our curriculum and provides our students with an exceptional, hands-on learning experience.”
CMTP is Canada’s first incubator and permanent headquarters for the development of new musical theatre works by Canadian and international composers, lyricists and book-writers. CMTP connects creative teams with talented students who help bring new characters to life, creating an environment for material to be tested and rewritten. Three or four projects are selected each year, with a five-week workshop period culminating in staged readings in front of a 200-person audience of industry professionals and theatre enthusiasts. Since its inception in 2011, 225 students, 34 writers and composers and 25 guest directors and music directors have participated in the creation of 19 new musicals.
Sheridan College is one of Canada’s leading post-secondary institutions, serving over 22,000 full time students at three campuses in Brampton, Mississauga, and Oakville, Ontario. We offer over 120 diploma, certificate, and bachelor degree programs in the fields of arts, business, community service, health, technology and the skilled trades. Sheridan’s faculty, staff, programs, students have garnered many national and provincial awards of excellence, while our alumni include a long list of nominees and winners of Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Canadian Screen Awards and Annie Awards. Our vision is to be recognized as Sheridan Polytechnic, a university celebrated as a global leader in career-focused, applied education.