Donna (Stephanie Roth) seems a little annoyed by the antics of Tonya (Erin Ormond) and Rosie (Jenni Burke) in the Chemainus Theatre’s production of Mamma Mia! (Photo by Don Bodger)

Mamma Mia! poised to be biggest Chemainus Theatre show ever

Plenty of buzz as Island dinner theatre schedules ABBA-fueled romp

Mamma Mia! is the mother of all musicals these days and begins the longest run of any Chemainus Theatre Festival production in history Friday, May 24 with the first of 100 performances.

It’s also destined to be the theatre’s all-time best seller, as the buzz about this show continues to build in advance of the opening.

Michelle Vogelgesang, the theatre’s marketing and sales director, said the show was almost 50 per cent sold as of last week. Blocks of tickets were suddenly being purchased, as people made sure to secure preferred dates between now and the finale on Aug. 31.

“Lots of excitement,” said Vogelgesang. “I think tickets will go fast.”

“I do feel like I’m stepping into a show that has already inherent energy about it,” said hometown Chemainus actress Erin Ormond, who plays the role of Tonya.

“People really identify with these characters. I feel like we’re creating something exciting. It felt like a party. Everybody’s so joyous and happy – ready to go and ready to work.”

Rehearsals started on April 29 and it’s been a fast track to the opening for the cast and the behind-the-scenes crew.

The award-winning story of Mamma Mia! is magnified by the songs of ABBA, composed by former members of the band, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Mamma Mia! tells the story of Donna (Stephanie Roth), an independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on a beautiful Greek island. She is about to let go of spirited daughter Sophie, whom she’s raised alone.

For Sophie’s (Alex Gullason) wedding, Donna has invited two lifelong best girlfriends – practical and no-nonsense Rosie (Jenni Burke) and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tonya (Ormond) – from her one-time backup band, Donna and the Dynamos.

Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier.

New love blooms and old romances rekindled over the course of 24 chaotic and magical hours on a lush island full of possibilities. The show is packed with the magic of ABBA’s many well-known hit songs that don’t need any introduction such as Super Trouper; Dancing Queen; Knowing Me, Knowing You; Take a Chance on Me; Money, Money, Money; The Winner Takes It All; and SOS.

Ormond said it’s her first time working with Burke, but she’s seen her on stage before. The three women have found instant chemistry in their roles.

“I knew stepping in, these are some fantastic women I’m going to be working with,” said Ormond.

Despite her abundant stage experience, Ormond said it’s been at least 20 years since she’s done a singing role.

“This is huge,” she indicated. “To come and do a summer musical of this scale is a huge gift.

“The talent, I’m in awe as I hear them sing and dance and how they put it together.”

Ormond gives huge kudos to the stage, lighting, costume and directing personnel for their work on the production.

ABBA music is one element that strikes a chord for Ormond with her dad, who’s deceased, from their past.

“I would sit and listen to the records over and over,” she conceded. “My dad’s favourite song was Fernando. Being part of the show has another whole layer for me. That was one of my connections with my dad.

“The other part about the music, I find, it’s deceivingly simple. There’s this infused sense of joy every time we start singing the songs.”

Getting everybody moving and having a good time is what it’s all about.

“Stephanie said by the time you start doing the show, everybody’s in a good mood,” added Ormond.

Playing Tonya has been enlightening in so many ways.

“For me, it’s very real the relationship between the women,” Ormond explained. “They’re all in different places in their lives.”

For her character, “she’s finding herself again. I think that connection with her youth reminds her of that part of herself, strong and free.”

It’s going to be an extremely busy several months for Ormond. She steps right into the production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession, running Sept. 13-Oct. 5, overlapping rehearsal time while Mamma Mia! is still on stage.

 

Just Posted

Hospice gets some help thanks to community hike

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society’s Hike for Hospice was held Saturday at Westwood Lake

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Prevent ‘reno-victions’

Lack of vacancy control results in rent hikes far exceeding allowable increases, says letter writer

Space rock band Possum will make Nanaimo debut

This month the group releases its first full-length record, ‘Space Grade Assembly’

Dogs, dogs and more dogs in Nanoose this weekend

Nanaimo Kennel Club hosts annual show

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cars too hot to leave kids unattended

A campaign on preventative measures is needed, says letter writer

Dogs, dogs and more dogs in Nanoose this weekend

Nanaimo Kennel Club hosts annual show

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Every cigarette and lottery ticket stolen from Parksville’s Log Cabin General Store

Break-in, theft occurred late on June 10 or early June 11

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

Vancouver Island Chamber Music Festival comes to Nanaimo

Performances to take place over two days at St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Truck loaded with culverts tips over on highway exit in Nanaimo

Crash blocks northbound access to Trans Canada Highway from Duke Point Highway

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Most Read