Award-Winning Sheridan College Musical Begins Toronto Run

The hit Broadway musical “Come From Away” is making its long-awaited return to Toronto.

“We will forever be proud that this is a musical that got its start at Sheridan,” said Sheridan College president and vice chancellor Dr. Mary Preece.

“It’s a testament to the creativity and innovation that have been embedded in our institutional DNA since our founding.”

The new production, which opens at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on Feb. 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, plus 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, an Emmy award winner and five-time Emmy nominee.

In 2012, the musical was first developed at Sheridan’s Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP), the country’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.

Photo courtesy of Sheridan College

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,” said vice provost for research Brian Jervis.

“It’s incredible that a show that first got its start at Sheridan has grown to a $60 [USD] 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.”

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.

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