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Former Corner Brook resident Kate Etienne an understudy in Canadian production of 'Come From Away'

Kate Etienne
Kate Etienne - Submitted

Kate Etienne doesn’t know many kids at the age of five and six who would want to sit in a theatre watching a play rehearsal when they could be out running around on the street and playing with friends.

But that’s just how the actress spent a lot of her evenings while living in Corner Brook.  

Etienne, 30, is currently in Toronto where she’s an understudy in the Mirvish Productions’ production of “Come From Away” at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

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The play about the Town of Gander’s response to the 9/11 tragedy is currently a hit on Broadway and the all-Canadian cast production started its run at the Royal Alexandra in February.

Etienne lived in Corner Brook from the age of three till about 13.

Her dad, Jerry Etienne, was with Theatre Newfoundland Labrador at the time and when he left she followed suit.

“Because at 13 I really couldn’t strike out on my own just yet.”

Her dad has since returned to the city and is now an instructor with the theatre program at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland’s fine arts school.

Etienne said without a doubt her interest in theatre started because of her father.

“I think I invited myself to rehearsals back when daddy would be directing a show and I would just sit in a corner and watch.”

Her passion is musical theatre and she loves to sing. It’s an interest that grew through piano and singing lessons with Gary Graham and seeing productions at the arts and culture centre here.

After high school she pursued her passion and graduated in 2008 with an honours certificate in musical theatre from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

For the last few years she’s called Toronto home as she goes “here, there and everywhere for work.”

Last May, while working on a show in Regina, she got an audition for “Come From Away” with the Toronto show’s casting agent Stephanie Gorin, something she considers “a real biggie.”

At the end of May she got a call back and a few days later came the call that she’d been selected to join the cast.

“The chips fell in my favour this time. There have been many, many a time where it’s been close, but no cigar.”

She’s understudying for four roles — Janice, Bonnie, Beverley and Hannah.

“It’s a crazy, daunting task,” she said, but the teamwork of the cast and crew is what helps to pull it altogether.

Rehearsals for the show ran from Nov. 27-Dec. 26 in Toronto and then the show went on the road for a trial run in Winnipeg.

While Etienne only took to the stage in rehearsals in Winnipeg, she’s already had the chance to appear before an audience in Toronto.

On Feb. 17, she filled in as Bonnie, the same role that Newfoundland actress Petrina Bromley plays in the New York show.

“I got the phone call about three hours before the show that I was going in,” she said.

And in those three hours she made many an excited call to her mom, dad, grandparents and extended family.

Etienne said it’s fantastic that the production is back in Canada and she’d feel that way even if she wasn’t a part of it.

“And that’s the most important thing is everybody just needs to get out there and see this show. Because in a time of incredible divisiveness in the world this all about coming together.”

The show will run in Toronto until Oct. 21 and Etienne hopes the journey continues and that more and more people get to see it.

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