Nfld. & Labrador

Come From Away raises more than $85K for N.L. food banks

Cheque from cast presented on the same day musical debuts in London

Cheque from cast presented on the same day musical debuts in London

Steffi DiDomenicantonio presents the cheque for more than $85,000 to Eg Walters. (Bruce Tiller/CBC)

It was a big day for the Community Food Sharing Association, and for the musical Come From Away.

As the musical about Gander's role in helping airline passengers stranded in Newfoundland during 9/11 made its debut in the U.K., the Canadian cast gave nearly $86,000 to help food banks across N.L.

When the Broadway hit came to St. John's for fundraising performances, it chose the Community Food Sharing Association as the recipient of the money brought in.

Steffi DiDomenicantonio, centre, and the cast of Come from Away. (Matthew Murphy)

Steffi DiDomenicantonio, a member of the Toronto cast of Come From Away, came to St. John's on Monday to present the cheque.

"Last week in Toronto, we were raising money for the Community Food Sharing Association after the show and I was giving my post-show speech and I said, as a joke, I said, 'We're accepting donations of any kind, any size, loonies, toonies, twenties, blank cheques,'" she said.

DiDomenicantonio said she told the audience that, if they were from out of town, a loonie was slang for a hundred-dollar bill, just as a joke.

Steffi DiDomenicantonio is a member of the Toronto cast of Come From Away. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"That night my stage manager texted me and he said, 'Hey, Steffi, you'll never believe this, but there were actually a few American hundred-dollar bills in the buckets,'" she said.

"Honestly it made me laugh so much and I thought, 'Man, I must be a really great actor, or people are really moved by the show,' and honestly I think it's probably that one." 

Eg Walters says the money will help replenish the stock of food and supplies for the Community Food Sharing Association. (Bruce Tiller/CBC)

Earlier this month, all the food stored at the association's warehouse in St. John's had to be thrown out after a fire damaged the building.

So this money will go a long way, says general manager Eg Walters.

"We're short on beans, pasta, pasta sauce, Kraft Dinner, tinned tuna," he said.

"So all these things we should have in later today and ready for tomorrow to help the food banks throughout the province."

Gander SPCA director Bonnie Harris says Come From Away has exceeded everyone's expectations. ( Pascal Leblond/CBC)

Meanwhile, Come From Away's producers flew some of the real-life inspirations for the musical's characters across the Atlantic to meet the actors portraying them in the production in London.

"Never, ever in our wildest dreams did we ever think that this was gonna go any farther than a college musical," said Bonnie Harris, Gander SPCA director.

The London cast of Come From Away perform a musical number. (Mirvish Productions)

Actor Jenna Boyd, who plays a schoolteacher, said accuracy is what stirs emotions in the audience, no matter how far removed they are from the events.

"I think the people of London want to see themselves there, because they want to believe that they would do the same thing," she said.

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