The Rainbow (Stage) Connection: Winnipeg on Broadway

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Winnipegger Samantha Hill and Ramin Karimloo backstage at Les Misérables on Broadway. Image courtesy the official Les Mis tumblr.

Author’s note: I couldn’t confirm if any of these actors have actually performed at Rainbow Stage since they don’t have an actor archive on their website. If you know one way or the other, leave me a comment!

The distance between Winnipeg and the Great White Way can seem too far a gap sometimes. I often think this when I’m looking at my bank account and the Hamilton Ticketmaster page simultaneously. But not only have people saved enough money to buy a single ticket to a show (it can happen again, I tell myself), but some hard-working, talented people have seen their names published in Playbill.

Len Cariou
Best known for being the original Sweeney Todd (in Sweeney Todd), Cariou is a St. B native and has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. He also holds the Order of Manitoba and honourary degrees from the University of Windsor and the University of Winnipeg. He didn’t start his theatre life playing the infamous throat-slasher: his career began at Miles Macdonell, starring in The Pirates of Penzance. Cariou would go on to originate the role of Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music before bringing Sweeney to the stage. Cariou, now 76, stars in the cop drama Blue Bloods.

Jayne Paterson
Paterson began her Broadway career when she took over the role of Fantine in the original Broadway production of Les Mis. Since then, she’s been a member of the company in the original productions of Mary PoppinsBilly Elliot: The Musical, and the revival of A Little Night Music.

Samantha Hill
Hill hasn’t been on Broadway for very long, but both of the roles she’s played have been amongst the most well-known in theatre. She began as the alternate Christine Daaé in Phantom of the Opera in 2012 before becoming the principal four months later. In 2014, she played Cosette in Les Mis from when the second revival opened to August 30 of this year.

Nyk Bielak
Bielak is currently standby for Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Before that, he was doing the same role on the first national tour of Mormon, which passed through Winnipeg, ironically, right after he switched over.

So as these winter months wash over us and we begin to see our biggest and brightest hopes get buried under the snow, perhaps Winnipeggers need to remember the famous words from Rocky Horror: “Don’t dream it, be it!”

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One thought on “The Rainbow (Stage) Connection: Winnipeg on Broadway

  1. Barb

    Another great blog post! Here’s a Globe & Mail interview with Jayne Paterson where she mentions Rainbow Stage: “I had great teachers who gave me a lot of opportunities to sing at school in my early years. I was then cast on CTV’s Let’s Go at the age of nine. I started working professionally at a very early age at Rainbow Stage, a great training ground, as they brought in fantastic performers from all over the country to play various roles in their season…”

    Liked by 1 person

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