Actors and Artists of Fayette County was among the community theater groups that jumped at the opportunity to obtain live performing rights for the ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” when they recently became available.
As a result, audiences at Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale will be able to get into the fun music when the show hits the Geyer stage June 13-16.
“I’m so excited to see what the audience is going to do when we perform these songs on stage,” says Kelly Damico of Connellsville, one of the “Mamma Mia!” cast members. “I would love to see people get out of their seats and sing and dance with us during the popular songs of ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Waterloo.’”
Damico’s character, Donna Sheridan, is the feisty and hard-headed owner and manager of the hotel, Bella Donna, on the Greek Island of Kalokairi, where the action takes place.
She is a loving and kind mother to Sophie Sheridan and a former member of the band, Donna and the Dynamos, with her two best friends, Rosie and Tanya. Donna is still in love with Sam Carmichael who shows up on the island 20 years later after he left her to go home and get married.
A different take
“(Director) Shawn Conway is taking a different spin on this show and incorporating more of Donna’s past of the Dynamos and her three love interests, Sam, Bill and Harry,” Damico says. “The script doesn’t give the audience much insight on Donna’s past, so Shawn is making it come to life by incorporating multiple flashbacks on stage during the show.
“Each of the Dynamos and three ‘Dads’ will have younger versions of themselves on stage. It’s really going to tie the show together on a much more understandable level for the audience,” she says.
Since the musical has been popular in the area with local theater groups and high schools, Conway says, “I wanted to bring a fresh look to the story that was so familiar to our audiences.
“We have tried to add a few storytelling devices through dance. Donna and the Dads are haunted by their shared pasts, and in our production we see their past selves through pseudo-ballet sequences,” he says. “It’s essentially Greek tragedy set to ’70s songs.”
Gabby Takitch of Latrobe plays Sophie Sheridan, Donna’s daughter who is looking forward to a perfect wedding that includes her father giving her away. Only one problem: when she sneaks a peek into her mom’s old diary, she discovers that there are three men who could each be her father.
She invites all three to the wedding, hoping that she’ll know her real dad when she sees him.
Robyn Brady of Vanderbilt returns to the stage after a 10-year acting hiatus to portray Rosie, a friend who comes to the island to attend the wedding and enjoy a getaway with the girls.
“Rosie is a sassy, funny, energetic and loving lady who lives life to the fullest,” Brady says. “Thanks to my daughter who is home for the summer from WVU and wanted to be in a show with me, I summoned up the courage and auditioned.”
Her daughter Angelina is in the dancing ensemble.
“’Mamma Mia” is just a fun time and our telling is no different,” Conway says. “And I guarantee that no one has had a crazier nightmare sequence in Act 2 than ours, with a bunch of random movie and musical characters complete with a T-Rex.”
“Mamma Mia! Let the fun begin!”