Behind the Scenes of ‘Mamma Mia’

Written by Mckenzie Gibel, Staff Writer

This year, I had the privilege of being cast in the ensemble of the Pauper Player’s latest hit musical production: Mamma Mia. There were many challenges, but in the end, it all came together and we put on a great show!

“For almost the whole rehearsal process we didn’t have many props, or a set, or even a big enough space to rehearse the big dance numbers. The most magical part of the show was the first time we did a full dress rehearsal in McAlister with all of our costumes, props, and sets. All of a sudden, the show became a show,” Ella Morton (Lisa) said.

With the arrival of props came some last-minute scene changes. For example, during “Thank You for the Music,” it was originally planned that Ben King (Harry Bright) would strum the first couple of chords in the song before the orchestra pit took over. However, King had never played the guitar and during rehearsal he added a line, in character, to stall while he found the right finger placement: “One moment, it’s been a few years,” he said. Meanwhile, during a rehearsal break, McCrae Sanders (Bill Austin) took up the guitar and played the whole song effortlessly. Thus, it was added to the scene that Harry would try to play the guitar, but Bill would take it from him for the rest of the song.

There were plenty of moving parts backstage, but the cast and crew still made time for humor! During a run of “Winner Takes it All,” Neil Gunn (Sky) did his best to make Raleigh Cothran (Sam Carmichael) laugh by making faces at him off stage, but Raleigh never broke character! This delicate balance of humor and professionalism didn’t stop in rehearsals – one example of this comes from Patterson Hood: “I worked as a stage crew for the production, and my favorite part of Mamma Mia was Britney [Britney Plumbey (Rosie)] and her [prop] fish! Right before she would go on stage for the scene with McCrae [Bill] about fishing, we would always say ‘It’s Herbert Hour’… that’s what we named him!”

During our last performance, several things went flying in Act One. In “Money Money Money” a pair of sunglasses that were meant for Donna’s face ended up flying into the pit – later to be seen on the face of the percussion player who got hit. During “Lay All Your Love on Me,” it would be hard not to notice a certain flipper’s strap breaking and the flipper being launched across the stage: “I have never seen a flipper have that much velocity,” was later sent into the Mamma Mia group chat.

This quote from our esteemed director Rebecca Hearn encapsulates the tone of the show: “ Everyone in the show is so talented and would do little things to make me smile every day. Like when Izzy [Isabel Wildgen (Donna)] would use the big white sheet as Sophie’s [Anna Wesselman] wedding dress or when the dads [Raleigh Cothran (Sam), Ben King (Harry), and McCrae Sanders (Bill)] would do a show at intermission during tech week.” Overall, it was an incredible experience that I will never forget. 

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