Dancing in the aisles
What: Mamma Mia!
Where: McIntyre Hall, Mount Vernon
WHEN: April 4-7 and 11-13
Cost: $20-$40 (Thurs, April 4 is 50 percent off night)
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Opening night made all the hard work worth it, Mamma Mia! director Jane Skinner reports. The Theater Arts Guild (TAG) production about a young woman on a quest to find her true father and marry her true love—with the help of with a metric ton of ABBA songs—debuted to an audience that not only applauded, but also ended up on their feet, singing and dancing along with the cast.
Cascadia Weekly: How long did it take to get to that point?
Jane Skinner: Auditions were in mid-November. We rehearsed four days a week for four months. However, I’ve been waiting 18 years to do this show. After seeing it in Seattle in 2002, I waited for the rights to become available to community theater for that long. The day they became available, Theater Arts Guild applied and were granted the rights.
CW: Do you now know all 22 of the ABBA songs in the musical? Do you have a favorite?
JS: There was one I didn’t know and probably most people won’t, so we got creative with the staging and I think people are going to enjoy it. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Dancing Queen” is pretty iconic and fun.
CW: Love in its many forms is celebrated in this play. What other themes do you see as being important to the production?
JS: The importance of family and friends.
CW: You’ve got a large, intergenerational cast and crew. How do you keep track of so many moving pieces?
JS: The secret is gathering a team of support you know you can trust. My assistant director, TJ Fantini, has been so incredible, taking care of details that really made the difference in the quality of this show. Choreographer Maluhia Vander Griend took the outlines I gave her and created amazing high-energy and professional-looking dances. Conrad Askland was the musical director and enough cannot be said about the level of talent he brings. We have four producers to take on the too many details to mention. Our stage crew includes leaders on both sides of he stage who manage their teams, and our sound designers and technicians are truly professional quality.
CW: What has been exciting about helming this production?
JS: Everything! I think I would have to say that the level of music is the most exciting this time. We had a large turnout to our auditions, so were able to gather a very talented cast.
CW: What else have you directed for TAG?
JS: I have directed more than 20 shows for TAG over the last 25 years. Last year was Beauty and the Beast, my first was Grease.
CW: What do you hope audiences come away with after watching the Theater Arts Guild’s version of Mamma Mia?
JS: I hope they are able to take a few hours out of their busy lives to just have some pure fun. I hope they go home singing the songs. And I hope they think about how important friendship and family are.
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