Petrina Bromley stars as the title character in Our Eliza, Ship’s Company Theatre’s second mainstage production of the season, which will run from Aug. 6-31.
PARRSBORO – Rehearsing for a dramatic lead role while performing as part of an ensemble in a frantic musical comedy might seem daunting to the average human, but Petrina Bromley seemed to take it all in stride.
Now that the comedy – Ship’s Company Theatre’s lauded production of By the Dark of the Moon – has wrapped, the actress has delved even further into the depths of her new role, the title character of the company’s second mainstage production of the season, Our Eliza.
She described the two shows as “chalk and cheese” because they are worlds apart in terms of style and material.
“I had to have myself in two different headspaces during the course of a day,” she explained. “It was almost a relief, though, to come here after all day dealing with the seriousness of Our Eliza, and just run around in silly outfits and sing a few songs.”
Bromley, a multi-talented artist who acts, directs, sings and writes, was one of several cast members who performed in multiple roles in By the Dark of the Moon, a period piece set against the backdrop of the prohibition era.
With seven actors portraying upwards of 25 characters, she said the performances in front of the audience could have been eclipsed at times by some of the hilarity happening backstage.
“It’s just a flurry of people running past each other, changing as they go, and pushing people and puppets and props and everything out of the way,” she said. “The first few runs are just chaos. You feel like there’s no way we’ll ever do this, and then it just magically comes.”
And come it did, as By the Dark of the Moon received rave reviews from both critics and audiences alike.
Now Bromley, whose past stage credits include Oil & Water, Fear of Flight, and Afterimage, will share the stage with only two other cast mates – Kevin Curran and Gordon Patrick White, both of whom also worked with her on the previous show.
Written by Megan Coles, Our Eliza tells the story of rural Atlantic Canadian community life, as seen through the eyes Eliza, part of a generation of women that built strong families and towns instead of pursuing modern careers. White plays her father, Loomis, while Curran plays her husband, Hank.
It was the beauty of the writing that drew Bromley to the piece, after she saw its premiere in St. John’s last year.
“It’s the kind of show that actors love because you really get to live in someone else’s world authentically for a period of time, which is so beautiful and kind of rare,” she said. “You will recognize Loomis, you will recognize Eliza and Hank as people you know from your family and your community. They are very real, accurate drawings of rural Atlantic Canadian people.”
The play spans a time period of 30-40 years, and includes in its character’s lives events such as the collapse of the cod fishery and the decline of the seal hunt, but the story could really be about any family, anywhere, according to Bromley.
“It’s a story of family relationships, what dependency means and what co-dependency means, and how people learn to deal with people they are forced to live with, which I think we all recognize,” she said. “I think that’s the aspect of it that’s so appealing to people.”
Directed by Natasha MacLellan, Our Eliza runs at Ship’s Company Theatre from Aug. 6-31.