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Theater

If you loved 'Mamma Mia' the movie, you'll love this musical

| Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
The cast of “Mamma Mia!” Nov. 17-18 at The Palace Theatre includes Kim McLeod, Renata Marino and Elyssa Turcan.
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The cast of “Mamma Mia!” Nov. 17-18 at The Palace Theatre includes Kim McLeod, Renata Marino and Elyssa Turcan.
Renata Marino is Donna Sheridan and Mandie Russak is her daughter, Sophie, in the Stage Right production of “Mamma Mia!” Nov. 17-18 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg.
Renata Marino is Donna Sheridan and Mandie Russak is her daughter, Sophie, in the Stage Right production of “Mamma Mia!” Nov. 17-18 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg.

Irwin native Mandie Russak has four good reasons why seeing Stage Right’s production of the ABBA-inspired musical “Mamma Mia!” Nov. 16-18 at the Palace Theatre, Greensburg, is a “must-do” event for theatergoers:

• The songs are catchy and you already know the words.

• The cast is amazing, from kids to professionals who have toured the country.

• The family bond between Sophie and Donna is more than just mother-daughter, it’s an inexplicable friendship.

• “Mamma Mia” will warm your heart and make you tap your toes.

Russak, who currently resides in Regent Square, may be a bit biased in her reasoning. She is, after all, one of the leading characters in the show, playing the daughter role of Sophie.

The timing was right

Renata Marino, education coordinator and resident choreographer for Stage Right, says the timing was right to stage the area premiere of “Mamma Mia.” The theater company was waiting for the show to become available to perform.

“The November slot is one where we try to find something that is going to be an ‘event’ — ‘Mamma Mia’ definitely qualifies. It is filled with guilty pleasure music and great female characters and is so much fun,” says Marino, who portrays Donna, Sophie’s mother.

The musical — told through ABBA songs such as the infectious “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me” and “S.O.S.” — focuses on Sophie’s search for her father to give her away at her wedding.

1 bride, 3 possible dads

The trouble is, it could be any of three men that her mom had one-night affairs with around the time of her birth – so Sophie invites all of them to the wedding to try and sort out her problem.

The cast features Allan Snyder (AEA, NYU, Broadway’s “Les Miserables”) in his first role with Stage Right, Tony Marino and Jason Swauger as the three possible fathers. Also in the show are Kim McLeod, Elyssa Turcan, Nick Lenz, Peter Jones, Matthew Hommel, Courtney Harkins and Cecilia Petrush.

Russak most recently was seen as the Beggar Woman in Split Stage’s “Sweeney Todd.” She also has performed in regional productions with Pittsburgh Musical Theater, The Theatre Factory and Point Park Conservatory, in a national tour of “The Producers” and an international tour of “My Fair Lady.

Renata Marino performed in “Harvey” “Shrek” and “Rocky” at Saint Vincent Summer Theatre, where she also is resident choreographer.

Stage phenomenon

Artistic Director Tony Marino says “Mamma Mia!” has become a phenomenon of sorts in the theater world.

“Audiences love the story, they love the music and it becomes this truly unique experience for the cast and the audience,” he says. “Putting the show together has been a really fun time. If you love the movie, you’ll love the musical, there is no doubt.”

The Westmoreland Cultural Trust is sponsoring a post-show event for all three Stage Right shows at the Palace during its 20th anniversary season. On Nov. 16, an opening night reception will be held following the “Mamma Mia!” performance with desserts, an open bar and ABBA karaoke in the Megan Suite at the theater. Attendance is free; donations are appreciated.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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