With her wispy, blonde hair, ocean blue eyes and long, black, body-hugging dress, it’s perhaps fitting that Oak Bay’s Laura Jayne Earnshaw’s headlining gig at the David Foster Theatre is called “SENSEational.”
SENSEational B.C.: Eh musical journey!, is the name of Earnshaw’s live dinner theatre show, hitting the stage every Thursday from May 22 to Sept. 11. The evening starts with a five-course dinner, showcasing Canadian ingredients before moving into the 90-minute theatre show, where Earnshaw will perform a number of songs by well-known Canadian artists such as Celine Dion, Leonard Cohen, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Buble and David Foster. Performances from Ballet Victoria will also be part of her show, along with witty commentary.
“It starts with a food and wine journey across Canada and then a journey across Canadian popular music,” Earnshaw says. “I’m super excited and it will be super fun.
“I am British and am doing this Canadian, best-of-what-I’ve-learned-in-Canada show.”
Earnshaw was born an only child in Bristol, England and has been in the performing arts since she was three. Her first ballet shoes were knitted because her feet were too small for the commercially made ones. Tap and jazz followed and at age 15, she started singing. Musical theatre training at the Bristol Academy of Performing Arts came after high school.
“I was one of those crazy amateur nuts going from audition to audition,” Earnshaw says. “It was, it is extremely competitive.”
One day while attending an audition, Earnshaw heard about another audition to work on cruise ships. She attended on a lark, received a callback and embarked on an eight-year career performing on the water.
“I never thought of doing cruise ships before, I wanted to do (London’s) West End musical theatre,” she says. “It then struck me that, well, I’ve always wanted to travel.”
Earnshaw worked on a number of cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Her last role, one that she has always wanted to perform on stage, was playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago. For one year, she performed the coveted role to 6,000 guests each week on what is currently one of the two largest cruise ships in the world, the Allure of the Seas.
After completing her Chicago stint, she moved to Oak Bay in March 2012 to be with her husband, Steve Earnshaw. She met him on the first cruise ship she worked on and the couple maintained a long distance relationship for four years as he moved to Oak Bay and she continued working on ships. Now a permanent resident here, Earnshaw is pursuing work locally. She has sung the national anthem at the Victoria Grizzlies hockey game and performed at the Modern Bride Show and Fashion with Passion. Recently, she landed work on the upcoming television show Gracepoint, starring David Tennant.
“I am working on set here in Victoria on a fantastic television show,” Earnshaw says with a smile, being slightly coy and completely obvious at the same time. “It’s great to be part of it and it’s really going to showcase Victoria to the world. The cast and crew are amazing.”
Earnshaw’s biggest career influence is her mother, who she hopes will fly over the pond to see her show. Her mother was a dancer and ballet teacher but never got to pursue her dreams.
“My mom grew up dancing and was involved with theatre, but she grew up in Northern Ireland and didn’t have the same opportunities that I did,” Earnshaw says. “She had never done what I did. I guess you can say I’m living her dream.”
Earnshaw loves living in Oak Bay and can often be seen with her dog “Robert, the golden doodle,” who she takes second billing to whenever they are at Willows Beach.
“He’s very well-known there,” Earnshaw says with a laugh. “He has a much better social life than I do.”
The David Foster Theatre is located at the Oak Bay Hotel. The dinner and show is $69 and reservations can be made by calling 250-598-4556.
More information about Earnshaw can be found at laurajayneearnshaw.com.
CORRECTION: The evening provides a five-course tasting menu, not a dinner. The news apologizes for any confusion this error may have caused.