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Preparation underway for Mamma Mia! musical to hit the Prince Rupert stage

Performances will be April 20-22
Cast members rehearse a tricky number on Jan. 17, in Mama Mia!, the first community musical in five years to be held at the Lester Centre in April. Tickets are on sale now.

It’s just a little less than three months to the opening curtain call for Prince Rupert’s community musical Mamma Mia!, and the cast and crew are already hard at work, Chris Armstrong, general manager at the Lester Centre of the Arts and producer for the production said on Jan. 19.

Usually held every two years, this is the first time in five years there has been a community musical in the city and everyone is very excited, he said.

As soon as Mamma Mia! was suggested, Armstrong knew it was the perfect choice for this year.

“The play itself is a heck of a lot of fun and borderline silly. I think people just want to have a good time after all this COVID stuff has happened over the last couple of years. [I think they want] to relax, laugh, smile and hopefully sing along with the music too.”

This will be Alison O’Toole’s second time directing the community musical, although she has a lot of experience in the role after directing 27 city high school musicals.

“I love ABBA and grew up playing their music on the piano and singing my heart out as a kid so I was supportive of the selection,” she said.

“I also know that there are a lot of ABBA lovers in this town,” she said.

Rehearsals, which started at the beginning of the new year, consume between 10 and 11 hours per week, O’Toole, stated.

The cast is made up of 37 performers, ranging in age from 18 to over 60 and all levels of experience.

“Most people have some experience, whether it’s from past community musicals, dance, community choirs or school productions,” O’Toole said.

All of their sweat and effort is paying off, as she said rehearsals are exceeding her expectations.

For those who have seen the film only and not the live theatre production, there is one scene they may not be familiar with. It is particularly tricky for a number of reasons, O’Toole explained.

“It’s a nightmare. However, the music isn’t particularly scary. The whole show is a musical comedy so there is definitely some humour in the scene. The clever choreography mixed with the lighting and costumes will hopefully create an effect that suggests the weird things our brain does when trying to process our realities.”

It’s not only performers who are hard at work. The band, made up of musicians from the community, are meeting for a few hours each week. Armstrong said they are working very hard to learn all of the music.

In addition to the organized rehearsals, actors and musicians are also putting time in at home to practice.

A separate crew responsible for set design has just started meeting and was busy painting props and sets on Jan. 17.

“What the audience sees on the night of the show is just the tip of the iceberg,” Armstrong said.

“There are so many aspects of the production that need to all come together for those three nights to create a sense of magic and wonder for everyone.”

Tickets for the performance are now on sale and not to be missed. What could be better than a night filled with spandex, dancing, laughing and ABBA. Showgoers can buy tickets for the three evening shows between April 20 and 22 at the theatre box office, the online box office or at Cooks Jewellers. The price per ticket is regularly $30, with a discounted price of $25 for seniors and students.

The management, cast and crew include: Producer, Chris Armstrong; Director, Alison O’Toole; Choreographer, Katrina Duong; Vocal Director, Daniel Sim; Musical Director - Kristy Tillman; Set Designer, Dwain Harrison.

Lead roles are: Jewel Jerstad as Donna; Jordan Paolinelli as Sophie; Tristan Higginson as Sam; Bobby Sheasgreen; Chrystopher Thompson as Bill; Corinne Bomben as Tanya; Heather MacRae as Rosie; Georgia Riddell as Ali; Paula Loroff as Lisa; Jonathan Pinkhasik as Sky; Johnathan Lundman as Eddie; Sam Brennan as Pepper; Marg Logan as the priest.

Ensemble is: Anna Marie Prohaska, Belinda Wilson, Bo Millar, Boston Hall, Brysha Renfree, Caitlund Catherall, Clara Nelson, Dana Chetwynd, Dawn Chetwynd, Evelyn Vogel, Hailee Ventura, K-J Millar, Laurie MacRae, Leah Jowe, Margaret Cavin, Meghan MacRae, Morgan Verissimo, Naomi Vandermeer, Nathasha Dover, Niles Louttit-Salo, Shala McCarthy, Thomas Viktil, Tina Murray and Zoe Zentner.

READ MORE: Casting call for Super Troupers to audition for Prince Rupert’s first community music in four years

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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