E.B. Smith grew up with a father who, as baseball player with Chicago Cubs, understood what it meant to dream. The Chicago Cubs hold Major League Baseball’s longest championship drought going from 1908 to 2016 without winning a world series.
Smith’s father understood the value of hard work and practice in pursuit of a dream.
So when Smith’s dream of performing at The Stratford Festival finally came true he took his father on a tour of the Festival theatre to share his joy and excitement of performing in the legendary theatre.
Together they snuck onto the thrust stage and Smith’s father had the opportunity to stand where legendary actors from Brian Bedford and Len Cariou to Maggie Smith and Jessica Tandy have performed.
Looking around the theatre from centre stage Smith’s father said “So this is the big leagues? This is your Wrigley Field,” comparing the Festival stage to Chicago’s legendary baseball park.
Smith’s mother was an academic, in our conversation Smith describes his home life as an eclectic scene with athletes, deep thinkers and a grandfather with a great sense of humor.
Our podcast covers Smith’s path to success, from his home in Chicago to university in Ohio and life as an American born actor working in Canada.
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the co-writers of the hit Broadway show “Come From Away,” are my guests on this podcast.
Irene and David, went from producing a playful musical at the Toronto Fringe Festival to creating “Come From Away.”
Their Fringe show, “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” attracted the attention of producer David Mirvish who brought it from the Fringe to a larger theatre.
Mirvish also discovered “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Toronto Fringe, so the pressure for “Wiccan Wedding” to succeed was high. Things went well with that production and soon they were working on “Come From Away.”
“Come From Away” is a musical set in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the week following the September 11 attacks, when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town.
The people of Gander opened their homes and their hearts to the thousands of travelers, from all over the world, who were stranded.
In the podcast Irene and David explain how their creative process began with a trip to Gander, Newfoundland to interview the town’s people and collect true stories that became the foundation for the musical.
They explain the development process, that included meaningful workshops with theatre students at The Canadian Music Theatre Project, at Sheridan College, and Goodspeed Musicals a non-profit organization dedicated to musical theater based in Connecticut.
The students at both locations worked on the script and Irene & David discuss how significant this process was to shaping the show.
In the podcast we talk about the sweet spot between David’s love of folk music and Irene’s love of Broadway musicals.
This intersection is reflected in NPR’s “First Listen” review of the “Come From Away Original Broadway Cast Recording:”
“While the rock influences (or at least the Broadway-rock influences) of “Come From Away” make it feel firmly like a modern piece, there is an echo in the story of classic American musical theater – specifically, “Brigadoon.”
Click for the “Come From Away,” Original Broadway Cast Recording
On opening night Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau attended the show and met with Irene and David.
Click the arrow near the top of this page, or this iTunes link, to listen to this podcast about “Come From Away.”