By Preet Manukonda
The cast and crew of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School’s production of “Mamma Mia!” danced and jived, but most importantly they told a tale of true love, self-discovery and empowerment. The audience heartily applauded for the music and talent displayed on stage.
Based on songs recorded by renowned Swedish pop band ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” tells the story of Sophie Sheridan, an optimistic and lively young girl who’s about to get married. Before she says “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” though, Sophie wishes to have her father walk her down the aisle. Simple enough, right? In this island love story, not so much. Because not only does Sophie not know who her father is, but her headstrong mother refuses to tell her. Cue the drama as Sophie secretly invites three of her mother’s ex-lovers to her wedding anyway, in hopes of finding her true father. Af- ter all, what’s the worst that could happen?
In the case of this production, the various shenanigans, heightened emotions and heartfelt dialogues of Mamma Mia! were conveyed admirably by St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School. With sets that took inspiration from classic Greek
architecture and high-energy ensemble pieces, each scene transported the audience to the islands of Greece and had them saying “Mamma Mia!” all night long.
This production wouldn’t be complete without the recurring themes of love, especially between mother and daughter. Charlotte Nichols and Amber Dunton who played Sophie and Donna, respectively perfectly conveyed the relationship. As Sophie, Nichols accomplished the tough feat of going from an excited soon-to-be bride to a more mellow, mature woman. Dunton brought Donna’s slightly pessimistic but good-natured personality to every scene. Dunton’s powerful vocals asserted Donna’s position as a strong-willed mom. Despite their differences as characters, Nichols’ dazzling vibrato, and Dalton’s powerful belting meshed wonderfully, creating stunning harmonies and making for emotional ballads like “Slipping Through My Fingers.”
Alongside resident dancing queen Donna stood her two best friends: Rosie (Emma Lacy) and Tanya (Bailey Edwards). As two-thirds of the Dynamos, the duo entranced the audience with their hilarious antics and banter, while also convincingly portraying middle-aged
women looking for their ver- sion of happiness. Dynamos aside, the spirited ensemble brought the final touches to the pre-wedding, party-like atmosphere in “Voulez-Vous” and the titular song, “Mamma Mia.” Each actor brought evident energy to every dance, demonstrating a clear mastery of the choreography.
Greece’s architecture is one-of-a-kind, but it’s no surprise that the crew at SSSAS managed to replicate the cobblestone streets, regal buildings, and homey atmosphere of Donna and Sophie’s home perfectly. From small details like string lights, flowers and a boardwalk to larger details like a multi-leveled set and moving buildings, the set transported the audience right into Greece. Designed by Emma Lacy, Emmie Vajda, and Gabriella Miller Milow, the choreography complimented the mood of every song. Little swaying movements and large dance numbers enhanced every party scene.
Telling the story of Sophie and Donna Sheridan, the SSSAS cast and crew took on a very difficult task performing Mamma Mia!, but it was one that they managed to turn into an exceptional show.
The writer is a student at Westfield High School.