NL actress Kate Etienne is proud to represent home on stage in Toronto for the all-Canadian cast production of Come From Away at the Royal Alexandra Theatre
Kate Etienne may be an understudy, but she does not hesitate to say that she’s livin’ the dream.
So far, Etienne, 30, has taken on Petrina Bromley’s Broadway role of Bonnie on a few occasions, including at a promotional show in Denver, Colorado. She’s also taken to stage twice in May and will (thankfully, she says excitedly) be front and center for the month of July when her dad, actor Jerry Etienne, flies up to visit and see the show.
Etienne, who is understudying for four roles – Janice, Bonnie, Beverley and Hannah – says nothing can beat that first time you get the call that you’re on.
“It was pretty amazing. Back on Feb. 17 – and the reason I remember that date so specifically was because it was the day before opening night here in Toronto – and the call was for Bonnie, a role I had never been on the stage doing with the cast before, not even in a rehearsal setting.”
Etienne was given three hours to be performance-ready.
“It was like, take it from paper to on your feet in three hours, but I was super excited. My dad is friends with Petrina and he messaged her and she immediately messaged me and said; ‘you go girl!’ and then after the show, she messaged me again and said; ‘with every chair move, with every song, with every moment, I was thinking; you’re doing this with me right now.’ So that was pretty special. Two Newfoundlanders on stage at the same time, in two different counties, representing ‘The Rock.’ It was a special day.”
The play, about the Town of Gander’s response to the 9/11 tragedy, is currently a huge hit on Broadway. The Toronto production started its run at the Royal Alexandra in Feb. and will run until Oct.
Filled With Pride
Etienne says everyone involved is filled with pride.
“There’s the three ‘ps’ when you are looking at jobs in theatre; it’s people, pay and project. Well, this show I would do it for peanuts. It’s the best people, the best project and we all feel so incredibly lucky to be part of it because everybody and their dog wanted to be part of this show, and for myself being a Newfoundlander? That just made me want to be part of it even more.”
Etienne remembers the first time she saw the show before it made its way to Broadway.
“It was the original cast with Petrina, and I walked out of the theatre and it was snowing those big beautiful flakes and I remember looking up at the sky and thinking; I could not be bursting with more pride at this show, and this was long before I even had an audition for it.”
The show, she says, portrays everything she grew up knowing about her home province of Newfoundland.
“Just to know that the world is going to see that too is so incredibly special. For me, the fact that I’m a Newfoundlander, the fact that I’m a graduate of Sheridan College – which is where the show originated – and the fact that I’m an actor in Canadian musical theatre? It’s mind blowing.”
Stories Worth Telling
Come From Away has really changed the game, she says. “People finally realize that our stories are incredible and are so worth telling now,” she shares.
Etienne was in her grade nine music class when word broke about 9/11. Seeing adults she looked up to in tears made her realize the impact this event would have on the world.
And now, she shares the good that came out of that day; the kindness and generosity of Newfoundlanders; with audiences every night.
“I often get to watch the show with the audience so I’ll watch them react. Men come in with their wives, and this is my favourite; they come in and their wife is so excited, heard this is amazing, wanted a date night, and these men are just; oh, whatever, the theatre, musical theatre, about Newfoundland! And 20 minutes into it he’s laughing or he’s crying and then at the end, those men are the first ones out of their seats.”
The show converts everyone into a believer that there’s truly good in the world, she shares excitedly. It’s a show that shouldn’t be missed.
“Audiences know they just witnessed something incredibly special. The show just touches everybody.”
For show info. visit: mirvish.com