ITHACA, NY – The hit sound track of “Mamma Mia” makes the romantic comedy an on-stage summer party, showcasing everyone’s favorite ABBA songs. By the end of the Running to Places (R2P) production, the audience will likely be dancing in the aisles to the irresistible “Dancing Queen.” The show runs Aug. 2-11 at Dewitt Middle School, 560 Warren Road, Ithaca.
The story, made famous in the “Mamma Mia” movie, features Donna (Emma Ellis) running a taverna on a beautiful Greek island, where her daughter Sophie (Adeline Whitener) is about to marry Sky (Julian Speight). Sophie wants to walk down the aisle with her father, but she doesn’t know who he is – though she suspects he is one of three men described in her mother’s old diary. So without telling Donna, Sophie invites Sam (Logan Bobnick), Bill (Nick Mras ), and Harry (Max Rubenstein-Miller) to the wedding. When Tanya (Alyssa Salerno) and Rosie (Kayla Markwardt), Donna’s best friends and members of her old band “Donna and the Dynamos,” arrive for the wedding along with the potential fathers, confusion, romance, and great music ensue, with the happy ending a surprise twist.
“’Mamma Mia’ is a really good story of a strong woman who’s been just fine doing it all on her own,” says director Tucker Davis, who also serves as choreographer. “Over the course of the story, Sophie gains new respect for her mother and gets to see her as a person who has her own struggles and made her own decisions, which encourages Sophie to allow herself to also make her own decisions.”
At the same time, notes R2P artistic director Joey Steinhagen, “’Mamma Mia’ embraces the playful campiness of a jukebox musical. You can almost feel the show winking at the audience.”
The beloved ABBA songs come to life on stage with a driving disco vibe, says music director Ginny Maddock, an instructor at Flight Performing Arts. “The whole show is a bop. I feel I’m going to be dancing more than conducting.”
Adds Davis: “There’s a reason why it was one of the longest running shows on Broadway, because it’s fun and everyone knows at least one song. It’s impossible not to dance to Dancing Queen when it comes on. The choreography for the show is inspired by joy and about dancing as the expression of joy.”
The mostly veteran cast features many familiar faces that R2P audiences have watched grow from junior company members to “among the most stellar performers we’ve had,” says Steinhagen.
Members of the design team include costumer Candice Wade, set designer Deborah Drew, prop master Janet Olsen and assistant music director Kobi Rassnick, an Ithaca High School senior.
The show is supported by Cayuga Medical Center and an anonymous fund of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, with season-long support from CSP Management. Additional grant support was provided by the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.
The show runs from Aug. 2-11, with nine performances: Fridays, Saturdays and Thursday at 7 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets are $15 general admission; students and seniors $12, available on-line at www.runningtoplaces.org.