Mamma Mia delivers big-time

Arts & Entertainment

PICTOU – The Rotary Club of Pictou’s presentation of Mamma Mia has drivenamateur theatre to new heights.

To evaluate the production and its sellout crowds last Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre means searching for superlatives that ran out from describing the club’s previous musicals. It was electric.

Better to compare Mamma Mia there to work by professional troupes. On that score, director Don Hill and his cast and crew had more than a few people saying this presentation stands shoulder to shoulder with the best renditions they have seen.

That is a reflection of the musical, this performance and the massive appeal Mamma Mia has had on people, whether or not they are authorities on theatre and musicals.

Chicago two years ago garnered a similar refrain: the best yet and what to do for an encore. The production of On the Twentieth last year was also extraordinary, but the musical was less familiar to most people than the other two.

A groundswell of anticipation followed Hill’s announcement that stage rights to Mamma Mia had been secured in time to prepare for and present it this year. That anticipation was shared by theatre-goers and more than 60 people who tested for the some 40 parts among the lead and supporting players.

The musical’s setting is a Greek resort and an impending wedding. Knowing the music before what people were to see in terms of script and performance was helpful. The music stands on its own merits, but it was magical how each of those dynamite ABBA tunes supported every scene.

Cast and crew have been transformed. The band with just nine pieces – four of them on keyboards, belted out the music so mighty and seamless that it’s one of the elements the closed the gap between amateur and professional.

Then there was the music. Sally O’Neill as Donna was vocal director and had one of the lead roles. She was joined by fellow female leads Cheryl Corbin as Tanya and Karen Corbin Hughes as Rosie and Cecily Gilby in the pivotal role as Sophie.

The male leads Murray McLaren, Randy Gilby and John Jennings brought their same high standard of acting and singing.

Every member of the cast was in top form. The young leads and members of the chorus also were outstanding. And everyone was having fun in their roles.

What lies ahead are more wonderful collaborations by established performers and younger ones ready to assume their place over time. More Wow! Moments await.

Members of the ensemble share their choreography and singing talents.

(Goodwin photo)