Now Or Never

How Kevin Vidal made it to centre stage in Come From Away

Despite zero training in acting or singing, Toronto's Kevin Vidal stars in the new Canadian production of the Tony award-winning musical.
Kevin Vidal is surrounded by his fellow castmates in the new, all-Canadian production of Come From Away, which premieres in Winnipeg before moving to Toronto. (Matthew Murphy)

Just days before the Canadian regional theatre premiere of the Tony award-winning Broadway production of Come From Away, in a down-to-the-wire rehearsal, the musical director interrupted the actors: "Who's getting a note wrong?" 

One of the stars, Kevin Vidal, sheepishly put up his hand. "I think it's me," he answered. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

Kevin Vidal has a long list of film and TV credits, including Sunnyside and Workin' Moms. (Denise Grant)

Vidal is exaggerating — but only by a bit. The 28-year-old from Toronto has no formal training as a singer or actor, and Come From Away, based on the true story of how Newfoundlanders welcomed stranded Americans during 9/11, marks his professional musical theatre debut.

Vidal is stunned he even got cast in the show, which had a sold-out, month-long run in Winnipeg before moving on to Toronto for a year or more.

"The amount of confidence I had in that audition was super, super low," said Vidal. "But in a weird way that relaxed me."

Vidal, who has recurring roles on the Canadian television hits Sunnyside and Workin' Moms, credits his singing and dancing success with self-confidence.

"Even if you're an awful singer," Vidal said, "If you have the confidence to just go and sing your heart out, people will love you." (For the record, Vidal's pipes are amazing. So he's mixing his confidence with a healthy dose of modesty.)

Now or Never host Ify Chiwetelu has been friends with Kevin Vidal since meeting him at Second City in Toronto. (Kaj Hasselriis, CBC)

Vidal never even considered performing as a career until he got pressured into auditioning for his high school's production of Guys and Dolls. Next thing you know, he was cast in the lead role of Sky Masterson.

That, said Vidal, was his "calling moment." He loved performing and he hated school, so he started doing improv and trying out for film roles. 

Now, Vidal faces his greatest test yet — keeping up with a dozen fellow performers, each playing many different characters, in a non-stop, 90-minute musical where everyone stays on stage until the very end.

"If you forget something, the show's not gonna wait for you," said Vidal. "Nobody can wait for you. There's an undercurrent, a pulse, that just carries the show. So if you forget anything, you either make something up or continue because there's no looking back."

Click listen (above) to hear Kevin Vidal's full interview with his friend Ify Chiwetelu, host of Now or Never. You can even hear them do some musical theatre improv!