Here we go again.
Temple Civic Theatre will open the 2019-2020 season this weekend with its production of “Mamma Mia!” Performances will begin 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Oct. 3-5, with matinee performances at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 5-6.
Advance tickets are available online at TempleCivicTheatre.com.
Dr. Sara Harris Baker, director, said the musical was selected as the season opener because audiences seemed hungry for something fun, light and uplifting, and “Mamma Mia!” fit the bill on all fronts.
“It was already shown to be really popular with audiences,” she said. “We’ve had a really strong pre-sale for it.”
Pre-sales for “Mamma Mia!” were so strong, in fact, the board of governors decided to add a matinee performance to its run to give even more people the chance to attend.
Baker said the musical also engages a nice swath of actors in different age ranges.
“So it kind of had a nice balance of experience and new energy for the theater,” she said.
In “Mamma Mia!,” the story of a young woman’s search for her birth father is told through some of ABBA’s greatest hits. On the eve of her wedding, Sophie Sheridan unites three men from her mother’s past on a Greek island paradise, unbeknownst to her mother, Donna.
“So they all show up, and it’s the story of how all of that unfolds, said David Perez-Guerra, music director. “It’s kind of a review of their lives together and past friends. It’s really kind of a pretty story.”
Perez-Guerra said rehearsals have been a blast, and everyone is having a lot of fun.
“The music of ABBA is really uplifting, and very, very familiar, so it kind of crosses generations which is kind of neat,” he said.
He said it takes a lot to bring the music of ABBA to the stage.
“It’s deceivingly complex, some of it rhythmically, some of it just based on the harmony,” Perez-Guerra said. “You know any group that’s harmony based, you’re trying to bring the voices together and replicate the feeling, if you will. So while it’s certainly not ‘La Boheme,’ it does have its own set of challenges.”
On top of everything else, the cast have a full band behind them, a situation Perez-Guerra said many of them have never sung in before.
Baker also said rehearsals have been a lot of fun. She said it’s a very active show with a lot of dancing and singing.
“The music is so fun, and some of the people who tried out for this show tried out because they have been lifelong ABBA fans, and they just really wanted to get to make this music onstage, so it has been fun. And I know it will be fun for the audiences, too.”
Tori Chron portrays Sophie Sheridan, the bride-to-be who dreams of having her yet-to-be-named birth father walk her down the aisle.
“She’s kind of had everything in the world given to her, and the only thing she feels like she’s missing is her dad,” Chron said. “And she feels like she has lost a bit of her identity in that, and she wants to find that piece of herself to be able to feel like she can move forward with her life and this marriage she’s jumping into.”
Chron said “Mamma Mia!” has been one of her favorite musicals since she was young.
“It’s been a dream roll of mine to play, and it’s been amazing,” she said.
Andi Billeck is playing Donna Sheridan, the independent single mom who raised Sophie.
“She’s taken care of herself and her daughter Sophie for all these years, runs a business – a taverna – and has just done quite well,” Billeck said. “She’s very independent, very strong, strong-minded. She’s somebody that people would admire.”
She said the initial reason for her excitement about “Mamma Mia!” was, of course, the music of ABBA.
“It’s kind of been the soundtrack to my family summer vacations growing up and still today,” she said.
Billeck said she’s been doing a lot of dancing and musical preparations to get ready for the upcoming performances.
“It’s a very strong cast and we’ve enjoyed working together, and we’re all very excited,” she said. “We want this to be a fun show, and we want people to come and sing and laugh and just have a great time with us.”