Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera will present Broadway’s smash hit musical, Mamma Mia!, Nov. 15-18 at Downtown’s Historic Saenger Theater. The show features 22 songs by beloved international pop act ABBA, including the title track, “Dancing Queen,” “SOS” and “The Winner Takes It All.”
Mamma Mia! was composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group's celebrated 1975 chart-topper, "Mamma Mia." Ulvaeus and Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development and evolution of the show from the beginning. The Broadway run of the popular musical ended in September 2015 after a 14-year run, making it the ninth-longest running show in the history of Broadway.
Director Lindsay Williams believes the show will delight Hattiesburg audiences.
“This show is so infectiously fun,” Williams said. “We have a fantastic cast, including people you’ve never seen on the HCLO stage before. And who doesn’t love ABBA? Even people who say they don’t love ABBA still love ABBA.”
Miles Doleac, who plays “Sam Carmichael” (the role Pierce Brosnan portrayed in the film version) puts it this way. “This music just has an effect on folks. It’s difficult to describe or quantify. But, when you witness it happening, it’s very hard not to just smile and let it wash over you, unless you’re moved to get up and dance, of course.”
HCLO is riding high after its biggest season opener in recent memory, The Rocky Horror Show, and the organization’s Board of Directors hopes that Mamma Mia! can continue to break new ground.
“We are ecstatic to have been granted the privilege to present this highly-acclaimed title to the community for the first time in our area,” said current HCLO President Jennifer Bolster. Bolster is especially pleased with where HCLO stands today versus its rather dire situation in the recent past. “We are heartened by the response to our recent work, especially Rocky Horror, and by the support of our city and community. We were dangerously close to having to shutter HCLO’s doors not too long ago, but a lot of hard work and some real generosity has put us in a much better place. We’re not yet where we want to be, but we’re inching closer.”
Mamma Mia!! tells the story of single mom, Donna Sheridan, and her daughter, Sophie, who run a hotel/tavern on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi. As Sophie plans for her wedding, she stumbles upon her mother’s diary and the names of three men who might be her father. Sophie manages to track down their addresses and send them wedding invitations, ostensibly from old flame, Donna, in hopes of finding out which of them is her real dad. When all three arrive on the island, hilarious and heartwarming hijinks ensure, all set to the irresistible pop stylings of ABBA.
HCLO’s production stars Olivia Drinkwater as Donna, Judyth Daley as Sophie, Miles Doleac, Wes Hanson, and Matthew Huffman as her potential dads (Sam, Bill, and Harry), Lindsay Williams and Mindi Bennett as Donna’s gregarious friends, Tanya and Rosie, and Abebrum Schoonover as Sophie’s fiancée, Sky. Claire Sanguinetti plays Sophie’s friend, Ali, and serves as choral master. Sanguinetti choreographs the show along with Williams and Rebecca Chandler. The show will feature set design by Whit Sanguinetti and Victoria Pardew and musical direction by Marc Rivet. Lindsay Williams directs.
Tickets are on sale now at HCLO.ORG ($14-$27). Shows run Thurs-Sun (7:30 curtain Thurs-Sat; 2 pm Sunday).