Rock Ridge High School
You can dance! You can jive! You will also have the time of your life at Connelly School of the Holy Child's production of "Mamma Mia!". The plot revolves around Sophie Sheridan, who invites three of her possible fathers to her upcoming wedding without her mother Donna's knowledge. Chaos ensues. With its catchy songs, hilarious characters, and touching story between mother and daughter, "Mamma Mia" is guaranteed to bring joy to the audience and remind people to find their inner dancing queen!
"Mamma Mia" is a musical based of the discography of Swedish pop group ABBA. Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (the songwriters), were approached by producers to create a musical. Catherine Johnson, a British playwright, was later hired to work on the project. Two years after it's initial premiere on London's West End, Mamma Mia opened in 2001 on Broadway, eventually becoming its ninth longest-running show. With ABBA, Ulvaeus and Andersson penned such classics as "Take a Chance on Me", "Waterloo", and, of course, "Mamma Mia". Taking on these standards is no easy feat. Nonetheless, the students of Connelly School of the Holy Child rose to the challenge.
Arguably, one of the messages of Mamma Mia is the bond between women. There are two strong relationships shown, the one between Donna and the Dynamos, and the one between Sophie and Donna. Maeve McCaffrey (Donna), Khoudia Diop (Tanya), and Elizabeth Lee (Rosie) as the Dynamos have fun with each other and support one another, especially in the number "Dancing Queen". However, Elizabeth Rothenberger (Sophie) and Ms. McCaffrey establish from curtain to closing that there is no stronger connection than that between mother and daughter, as shown in the duet, "Slipping Through My Fingers".
A challenge in a show like "Mamma Mia!" is balancing the tones of the show. From serious to light, the acting ensemble seamlessly transitions when necessary. Ms. Lee, who played the aforementioned Dynamo, Rosie, has a jovial rapport with C.J O'Shea (one of Sophie's suspected dads, Bill Austin) in "Take A Chance on Me". They both show off their comedic timing, all the while transitioning into the bittersweet wedding scene.
While the actors created varying emotional atmospheres, the technical aspects also helped set the mood for the audience. Immediately, the audience is captivated with the stunning set and backdrop. Inspired by the architecture on Greek islands such as Santorini, the azure rooftops and pristine white buildings create a Mediterranean atmosphere which transports the audience out of mid-Atlantic America. The backdrop, hand painted, has the power of changing the mood of a scene with the help of the lighting. In the emotional climax of the show, which takes place during "The Winner Takes it All", the lighting changes from a mild blue to a drastic white. This shade of white takes up the stage, showing the profiles of the actors while creating a tense atmosphere.
"Mamma Mia!" is a fun, dazzling, show filled with cheesy 70s' pop, glamour, and most importantly, love. The love between mother and daughter, the love between friends, and the love in the air. ABBA's music is like coming home, and Connelly School of the Holy Child's production of "Mamma Mia!" is a heartwarming homecoming. The cast and crew were definitely super-troupers, and the lights most certainly found them!
South Lakes High School
What do you think of when you hear the words "maternal mystery", "beautiful Greek scenery", and "Swedish pop"? Why, nothing other than Mamma Mia!, the early 2000s hit jukebox musical featuring the musical genius of the pop band Abba, of course! Connelly School of the Holy Child utilized their abundant vocal talent to bring Abba songs to life on their stage with their 2019 production of Mamma Mia!.
Mamma Mia! follows the tale of Sophie Sheridan, a 20 year-old girl living in a hotel she and her mother run on a beautiful Greek island. It's the eve of her wedding and Sophie has grown up without knowing her father, and is now searching for a dad to walk her down the aisle. It is just her luck, while reading her mother Donna's diary, she realizes that she has three potential fathers. After inviting all three men to her wedding under her mother's name, major miscommunications, flirting, and old feelings lead to a cascade of shenanigans. By the end of the show, with the help of great friends and meddling men, Donna and Sophie realize they may have both been wrong in their preconceptions about love and marriage.
The real highlight of Connelly's Mamma Mia! was the talented vocals of their leading ladies. Elizabeth Rothenberger's (Sophie) vibrato combined with Maeve McCaffrey's (Donna) gorgeous low range truly infused the color into the familiar Abba songs the audience knew so well. Jillian Geils, who supported the male vocals, also brought a beautifully toned performance to several songs, and never missed a note. Another fan-favorite was the combination of McCaffrey (Donna), Khoudia Diop (Tanya), and Elizabeth Lee (Rosie) as Donna and the Dynamos, as the actresses played off of each other with just the right hint of familiarity and teasing. CJ O'Shea brought the energy as Bill Austin, dancing and smiling his way through the many upbeat numbers of the show, truly embodying the carefree nature of free-spirited Bill.
On the ensemble side, the harmonies provided by the cast from offstage in many songs were always completely on, evidently well-practiced and finely tuned. While there was some confusion over choreography among the ensemble, several featured dancers wowed the audience by walking handstands across the stage and striking several gymnastic poses in "Does Your Mother Know".
As the cast tied up the production with a lively rendition of Waterloo, the audience surrendered their hearts to the dedicated performers of Connelly School of the Holy Child, and not a man, woman, or child was left without a song stuck in their head.