Weston, VT rediscovering the magic of ABBA as “Mamma Mia” rehearsals rock the Playhouse

Mamma Mia! lights up the MainStage from August 4 through August 20.

It doesn’t take more than a few bars of any ABBA song to make the folks in and around Weston, Vermont to smile and start humming along. It’s a feel-good musical, and the amazingly talented cast seen above is pouring a lot of love and high energy into their pop musical, Mamma Mia!.

Written by Catherine Johnson, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Stig Anderson, the story unfolds on a Greek island paradise when a daughter’s quest to discover her father’s identity brings three men from her mother’s past to the island they visited together 20 years before. Brimming with love, laughter, and friendship, and propelled by the irresistible songs of ABBA – including favorites like “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Dancing Queen” — Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical journey that can make audiences feel like dancing in the aisles.

After spawning a hit movie and almost 6,000 stage performances for 60 million fans in more than 40 countries around the world, Mamma Mia! finally closed on Broadway last September. Weston quickly secured the rights to bring the smash hit to Vermont audiences, under the direction of Tim Fort (42nd Street, Les Miserables) with a cast featuring many of Weston’s all-time favorite performers, including Susan Haefner (Weston’s 42nd Street, The Other Place, Broadway’s Damn Yankees, Thoroughly Modern Millie) and David Bonanno (Weston’s 42nd Street, Funny Thing, Broadway’s Light in the Piazza) as the long-estranged couple Donna and Sam. Clare Howes Eisentrout (Weston’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) returns as the soon-to-be-married Sophie Sheridan while comic greats Samuel Lloyd Jr (Weston’s Guys and Dolls, TV’s Desperate Housewives, Scrubs) and Tom Aulino (Weston’s Starcatcher, Funny Thing) play two of her potential dads. Dan DeLuca (Newsies, Weston’s Next to Normal) is on hand as Sophie’s fiancé, Sky, while Joanne Lessner (Weston’s Brigadoon, Candide) and Brandy Zarle (Weston’s Tartuffe, Damn Yankees) rock out as Donna’s famous Dynamos.

The show’s creative team includes choreographer Michael Raine and music director Larry Pressgrove (Weston’s Guys and Dolls,42nd Street), Both are joined by a Weston “all-star” design team including scenic designer Howard C. Jones, Lighting Designer Ann G. Wrightson, costume designer Karen Ann Ledger, and sound designer Ed Chapman. “For me, working on Mamma Mia is a dream come true,” Fort says. “I walk into the room each day to work on this exuberant musical with some of the best theatre artists in the world who also just happen to be old friends and wonderful people. All theatre should be like this!”

Sponsored by Casella Resource Solutions, Mamma Mia! runs August 4 through 20 on Weston’s MainStage at 12 Park Street. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00 pm, and Sunday at 3. The production is two hours and thirty minutes, with intermission. Reservations for dinner at West Town Eatery, or for post-show Cabaret, can be made by calling the box office. The show is selling fast, with added performances! Tickets begin at $35, and student tickets are half-price. Purchase by phone (802-824-5288) or online at westonplayhouse.org.

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