by Anika Jain (’22) | April 8, 2022
A project over two years in the making, Saint Francis’ Theater Department staged a wonderful production of Mamma Mia! for this year’s spring musical. Although the musical was ready to take the stage in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the unfortunate cancellation of the show just weeks before students were scheduled to perform. The jukebox musical with songs from Swedish pop quartet ABBA follows the antics of bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, played by Sarah Vorrath (’22), when she reads the diary of her mother Donna Sheridan, played by Maria Ana (’23). Sophie learns of three men who could possibly be her father and secretly invites all three contenders to her wedding, in the hopes that she can determine who her dad is and ask him to walk her down the aisle on her big day.
The students involved in the show were on a strict schedule. They had to block scenes, choreograph dances, and learn songs all within a short timeframe. “We would spend lots of time preparing to make [the scenes] perfect. As hard as it was sometimes, it was extremely fun,” shared William Mangan (’24), who plays Harry Bright, one of Sophie’s possible fathers.
Many students balanced roles both behind-the-scenes and on stage for Mamma Mia!, including Ana, who held the positions of Student Director, Student Costume Designer, and Assistant Student Vocal Director. “The hard work really made me get in touch with my character, Donna, as she was constantly working as well,” she stated. “I am super excited for audiences to see the ending three numbers of the show. Some of the most fun costumes, sets, and light design is on display during these songs, and it is always super fun to perform for people.”
In addition to the students, Director Mrs. Laura Rose and Assistant Director Mrs. Mary Jo Carroll made the decision to cast Father Tony and Mr. Jason Curtis, the President of Saint Francis, in the role of Father Alexandrios. Due to unfortunate complications within the cast, Mr. Curtis also filled in as one of the three dads for the parent Community Preview show. “The students were so kind to me; they were super supportive and helpful,” stated Mr. Curtis. He additionally shared that watching the cast and crew’s dedication to the show was “a real blessing.”
The success of Mamma Mia! is, in large part, due to the devoted student leaders. Justine Emerson (’22), who plays Tanya Cresham-Leigh, one of Donna’s best friends, taught her fellow cast members songs for the musical as the Student Vocal Director: “I enjoyed being able to balance my love for performing with my love for teaching, as I got to participate in both learning my blocking and choreo and also teaching vocals.”
“I’m most excited for the audience to hear ‘Voulez Vous,’” she continued. “I think it’s the song that lets the ensemble really show off their part.”
Vorrath, in addition to playing the lead, is also the Student Associate Director. She described her experience on Mamma Mia! as “full of laughter, teamwork, and support.” She added, “It required a lot of hard work and long hours. However, we were all there to support each other and lift one another up when rehearsals got tough.”
A defining characteristic of Mamma Mia! is its engaging and spirited dance numbers. Student Choreographer Hannah Valencia (’22) said her job “entailed watching past productions on YouTube, pulling from [her] own dance background, and collaborating with [her] co-choreographer,” Chyler Quitevis (’22). Many of the dance numbers were energetic and fast-paced, such as “Does Your Mother Know.” Valencia also pulled inspiration from popular TikTok dances for numbers including the opening sequence of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”
Overall, the musical showcased the tireless work of all who contributed. “One of the really neat things that people don’t get to see is the reaction of the cast and tech in the wings,” Mr. Curtis concluded. “When students really recognize and celebrate what other students do really well, that to me, is the heart of Saint Francis.”
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