Come and sing along!

Come and sing along!

Mamma Mia! at the Schuster Center

By Brian P. Sharp

 
Photo: The touring cast of Mamma Mia! will perform at the Schuster Center Nov. 29–Dec. 1; photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia

Just when you thought “Black Friday” only meant shopping, the Victoria Theatre Association is giving you another reason to be excited. Plus, you don’t have to get up at 3 a.m.! That alone is worth the ticket price, and you also get to see an amazing show. There are very few of us that haven’t sung along to an ABBA song at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the title song “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Thank You for the Music” or others, this is a show that is a crowd pleaser.

If you haven’t experienced Mamma Mia! you need to feel the energy that literally lifts you out of your seats to dance and sing. One such patron was so moved that she was literally dancing in the aisle. She was so moved that she bought the CD of the performance after the show. Just when you think it stops there, she was stopped for speeding in Englewood going nearly 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. At the time she was 78 years young, and when she explained to the officer she had been to see Mamma Mia! and bought the CD and was just singing along in the car and guessed she wasn’t paying attention to her speed, the officer said that was tough to argue with and he told her maybe she should turn it down or take it out and listen at home, but she didn’t get a ticket! This is just one example of the timeless nature of Mamma Mia!, and just in time for the holidays. Who says you have to go see a movie on the holiday weekend – or get Chinese food the next day? Support our arts community and take your family and friends to see this show!

Mamma Mia! is a musical written by Catherine Johnson and is based on the songs of ABBA. The songs were composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, founding members of the band and were involved in the development of the musical from the beginning. Mamma Mia! is the longest running jukebox musical on Broadway.

I had a chance to speak with Georgia Kate Haege, who plays Donna in this production. Haege is from Sydney, Australia and studied music at the Sydney Conservatorium earning her Bachelor’s degree. Haege has spent much of her professional career singing jingles and backup for such groups as Meatloaf and La La Brooks. Her musical training was in classical voice. She decided she wanted to try to find her career in New York, so she and a friend made the move to New York City. She came with only a dream. Haege has a passion for bands and she fronts/writes for a number of those in New York. She followed this passion and after many, many, many auditions and hours of waiting she landed this role. She feels that so many times an artist is typecast in an audition well before they are even heard. She recalls morning after morning getting up, getting her make up on, getting dressed, heading to an audition, waiting hours and then getting 30 seconds in front of the production team – then the waiting begins and you may not hear anything.

I asked her what it is about Mamma Mia! that is so special. She noted that this show continues to sell out houses after 12 years. She said the music is complex and interesting and that the story is heartfelt.

So, what is it about “Donna” that speaks to you? Well, she said that there is much of her in Donna. She is a bit of a wild child. She is absolutely not sure who the father of her daughter is. She is fiercely independent, noting this is much like Haeges move from Australia to New York. Yet Donna is warm and loving, while she also “doesn’t take any shit.” Haege said that Donna is a role you can believe in and feel great empathy toward.

When talking about life on tour, Haege recalled in the early days there were shorter stays in cities. Now things vary and they may get a longer run and be able to get to know a city. The show is housed in four semi-trailers and rolls in and out of town swiftly. The run in Dayton is only one weekend, so you need to make plans now to see it.

Haege said if she had it to do over again, she would do it all again. Her advice to young artists just getting started was focus and perseverance – practice, practice, practice! She has auditioned thousands of times, but now has landed this dream role. Do anything to keep putting yourself out there – film, television, musical theater, regional theater, even voiceovers and jingles. Just focus and drive.

Haege gets to return to Australia to see family only one time a year. So, while she is here, we are her family on this Thanksgiving weekend.

What am I thankful for: A city so full and rich with arts that there are options all of the time, we just have to enjoy them.

Get your tickets now to see Mamma Mia!

The Victoria Theatre Association presents Mamma Mia Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1 at The Schuster Performing Arts Center, 1 W. Second St.  For showtimes and ticket information, please call Ticket Center Stage at 937.228.3630 or victoriatheatre.com/shows/mamma-mia.

 

Reach DCP theater critic Brian P. Sharp at Theater@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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