During an All School Meeting in December, Mr. Weidman revealed that Mamma Mia! would be this year’s winter musical. The musical, whose songs are pulled from the ABBA musical cannon, first premiered in 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London and has since been played worldwide. It was later adapted into a film, which was released in 2008 and became so popular that it prompted Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, released in the summer of 2018.
Occasionally, the winter musicals go on tour to a GAIL school in another part of the world. Last year, The 25th Annual Putnam
County Spelling Bee went to the Kristin School in New Zealand. This year Mamma Mia! will only be performed on campus, in part due to the sheer size of the production.
Here at KUA, the theatre cast and crew are working hard to get ready for the show, which will be performed on February 21st through the 23rd. Mamma Mia! was chosen partly because of how popular it currently is, and partly because it is a good fit for KUA. According to the director of the musical, Mr. Weidman, “this show had the right casting, which is very important for smaller schools like KUA.”
The show this year will be unlike any show from years past, partly because of the sheer amount of people working to make the show as spectacular as possible. In total, there are around 60 students in the musical, not including some of the people working “tech” backstage to make the show run smoothly. This year there are 12 lead actors in theatre activity, along with others in ensembles. According to actress Kelsey Walker (‘19), “the biggest challenge this year is the size of the cast; 59 people is unprecedented.” And this is true – this year more people are working on the musical than ever before at KUA. Many of these students are in other afternoon activities and sports, which means that Mr. Weidman and the other staff must work to schedule daily practices around the schedules of many of their students.
Yet another unique aspect of this year’s show is the dance numbers. Unlike in years past, there is a student dance teacher, Harley Nguyen (‘20). She helps Ms. McCabe choreograph the dance scenes and teach it to the actors and chorus. Harley said that this job is a difficult one because “the cast’s dancing abilities are quite different.” She and Ms. McCabe must manage to teach all the actors and chorus members in the show all of the many dance numbers while working around their knowledge and capabilities.
The musical’s tech crew, led by Mr. Rogers, is making one of the most dynamic and complex sets in KUA’s history. The set team is taking pieces from shows of years past and compiling them together into what Mr. Weidman called, “the biggest set of all time.” This also means that there is much more work for the set team to get through. Both the students in theatre activity and Mr. Roger’s stagecraft classes have been working hard to make this set a reality for weeks and will continue working on it right up until the show opens.
Mamma Mia! is set to be a huge hit that Walker described by as “energetic” and Riley Werner (‘21) described as “engaging.” The musical will be playing in KUA’s Flickinger Auditorium from February 21st to the 23rd. Whether you are a theatre fan or not, every student is encouraged to come. Tickets will later be available for free on kua.org and in the Doe Dining Hall. As with all school performances, students should secure their tickets quickly before seats fill up.