On November 22nd, 2019, I had the privilege to interview Amelia Cormack who is a standby in Come from Away. I would like to give tremendous thanks to Ms. Cormack, the show’s staff, and the communications department at the PPAC for helping to put all of this together. Tickets for Come from Away are still on sale now along with a discounted price for students called the student/senior rush and the show will be running through at the PPAC from December 3rd, 2019 to December 8th, 2019. The theater is located at 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, Rhode Island and the phone to the box office is (401) 421-2787. During the interview, Ms. Cormack provides a terrific description of the show.
Carvalho: Tell us a bit about the show and what you do for it?
Cormack: So, the show Come from Away is a fantastic musical about the events after 9/11 on September 12th. There were thirty-eight planes stranded because the US Air Space was closed that were stranded in the town of Gander in Newfoundland. While 9/11 was the catalyst was for that, it’s about how the community comes together to support the seven thousand people that arrive, Gander is a town of nine thousand people, and their town nearly doubled overnight, and how they looked after these people and how the people in the town and the people on those planes lives were changed by the kindness of those people.
Carvalho: So, what exactly is it that you do for the production?
Cormack: So, I am one of the female standbys. There are three male and three female standbys, and what that means is that between the six of us, we cover all the roles in the show. So, you may not see us on stage every night unless someone is out, but it’s difficult and challenging, but an incredibly rewarding job. So, each of us cover five of the female or male roles in the show. So, you got to be prepared to go on a moment notice which is why we are in rehearsal at the moment and I was learning my third track.
Carvalho: So, throughout this tour, is that something that happened to you already where you had to step in?
Cormack: Yes, I have. I have been very fortunate to have played the role of Hannah a number of times already. I’ve only been with the show for a few months now, so I am more recent to the show. I have been very fortunate to have gone on, I think thirteen times, as the role of Hannah thus far, it’s been great. As people start taking vacations and things, that’s when I’ll get to go on a bit more as well.
Carvalho: When did you come to the states when you first came here?
Cormack: So, I moved to the United States to New York in October of 2013. So, I have been here six years now. Before that, I was living in London for two years.
Carvalho: When you’re doing a tour like this throughout all of the United States with the big national tour, what kind of impact does this have on you going from place to place like this?
Cormack: Yeah, I’m very lucky, this is my third national tour. So, I’m kind of an old hand at it now, but it is an interesting and challenging thing to be on tour. It’s very difficult to get a sense of things in terms of like you don’t see your usual doctor, or your usual pharmacy, and all that kind of stuff, but I feel incredibly fortunate particularly as an immigrant that I get, for my job, paid to see the country which is such a remarkable experience. I think I’ve been to thirty-seven of the fifty states over my three tours which is really amazing, but it can get a bit isolating as well just being so far away from home, but particularly with this show which is such a heartwarming and beautiful piece and watching the way that audiences around the country are just responding to this piece with such joy. It’s such a great reminder of the immense potential for good and kindness in human beings. So, to be working on a piece like that we’re also deeply proud of does make a huge difference.
Carvalho: With your stop here in Providence, how is your stay here in the state of Rhode Island?
Cormack: Well, we’re not actually there yet. Right now, we are in Rochester, New York. So, we’ll be in Providence the week after next, but I love Providence. It’ll be the third time I have played in Providence with a show, and I love PPAC. It’s a great theater, and obviously having family in Bristol, it’s really amazing to have that. So, I feel very lucky and I really love Rhode Island, Providence in particular. It’s such a great town, so, I’m always excited whenever I come to Providence.
Carvalho: So, what is it that made you decide that this is something you wanted to do as a career?
Cormack: I was one of those kids that, from a very young age, it was very clear that I was probably going to do something that was performative. At six, I was playing violin, and then nine, I started playing piano, and I was involved in my school choir. I kind of call myself a stage addict. If it’s something on stage, then I wanted to do it. So, all through high school I did the musicals, I did the plays, and the orchestra, and the choir, and all that kind of stuff. When I finished high school, I knew I wanted to be a singer, but I didn’t know if I wanted it to be as an opera or music theater singer, and it was through doing a degree at Sydney University that it was music theater that is really my passion, and then I went and studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Hugh Jackman is one of our alumni, and I graduated from there in 2004 and have been very fortunate that I pretty much started working about six months after I graduated from drama school. It just gives me such joy just being on stage and telling stories.
Carvalho: With doing this show, what kind of impact has it and the meaning of it had on your life so far?
Cormack: It’s incredible. I think particularly at the moment, we do need reminders of our humanity and how good people can be. Watching how the show is received and just being able to play five different women that all so different and all just as important as each other. We’re very lucky with this show. It’s really an ensemble piece, there’s twelve people onstage and then a band as well, and there’s no part that’s more important than the other, they’re all different and just as important as the other. I think to be a part of a show is such a weird thing where it really is a true ensemble piece in that way and to be on stage and telling these stories. Another thing that’s really amazing with this is the people whose story we are telling are still alive and they come and see the show all the time. So, one of the characters is Claude who is the mayor, based on Claude Elliot who was the mayor of Gander at the time, he comes out and they’re just such a lovely people and that is a real gift as well to be interacting with these people that you’re playing. It’s very special.
Carvalho: What would be the one thing you would try to say to someone to get them to go to the show?
Cormack: If you want to feel really really good, if you want to laugh and cry, see some brilliant actors, you are watching something, and you will walk away from the show changed forever. I guarantee it, there’s nothing out there like this, it really is truly special, marvelous, and wonderful.