WENATCHEE — "Mamma Mia! The Musical" will take the stage at Numerica Performing Arts Center next week after a year and a half in the making.
The production was originally scheduled as the Apple Blossom musical in 2020, but was pushed back to this year due to the pandemic. Even though director Paul Atwood decided on "Mamma Mia" before the pandemic was even a thought, the aspects of the show that initially drew him may be ideal for the current moment.
The show, a Music Theatre of Wenatchee production, follows the story of a young bride-to-be, Sophie, who invites three men from her mother’s past to the wedding in a quest to find out who her father is. Set on a Greek island, the story explores themes of love, family and friendship through some of ABBA’s greatest hits.
“I thought it would be a real fun community show. A lot of people like ABBA. It’s just fun music,” he said. “This is a happy, joyful musical. It’s so what we need.”
There’s been a number of hurdles to overcome during the year-long wait. Apple Blossom musicals are usually performed in May, so pushing the show to September made it difficult to find people who could commit to rehearsals over the summer, said producer Jill Sheets.
“A lot of the original cast dropped out, so we scrambled,” she said. “Most of the women are original, but men are always hard to find. Even my husband is in this now.”
The production also saw about five cast members drop out after the cast was asked to be vaccinated. Missed rehearsals due to COVID quarantines and summer vacations were also challenging, but the cast and crew say it’s been a joy to work on.
To thank the nurses who have worked hard during the pandemic, the production has given about 250 tickets for the final dress rehearsal to Central Washington Hospital's COVID-19 staff.
Atwood has never seen the stage version of the show, just the movie, which has allowed him to tap own creativity.
“I kind of like to have a blank state and then just paint the picture,” he said. Mostly, though, he’s just happy to have people back on stage.
Carson Zehnder, who plays Sophie, said she’s thrilled to be getting back to theater after a two-year hiatus. Her favorite part of the show is the number “Under Attack” — one of a handful of songs in the original stage production that didn’t make the cut in the 2008 movie adaptation.
“It’s a nightmare scene,” Zehnder said. “The choreography for it is very strange, but it fits the song very well, so I'm excited for people to see that one.”
Unlike Zehnder, the show’s other lead, Dawn McCormick, has never performed on a theatrical stage. McCormick, who plays Sophie’s mother, Donna, has singing and choral directing experience, but this will be the first time she taps into her acting skills.
The most difficult part for her will be keeping a straight face during songs that are paired with her character’s two best friends, but she thinks it’ll be a fun experience for viewers.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely different from the movies,” she said. “I think it's going to be fun and people are going to walk out singing the songs and enjoying the evening.”