The Workings Behind Mamma Mia!

By Emma Birdsong

As the showings of Mamma Mia! approach fast, the 35 members of the cast—who are high school students from Winsor and Roxbury Latin—are working hard. They’ve come a long way since rehearsals began on December 5: learning and memorizing songs, choreography, and lines. The musical is filled with ABBA songs and features a corresponding plot, making it a fun show to both watch and perform. 

When asked about the ongoing process of putting together the musical, the director Mr. Johnson remarked, “We are two weeks from the performance, and the show is coming together very well. We have an excellent group of performers, and I can’t wait to see them perform.” Right now, the cast is going through full run-throughs of the show. Olivia Sarkis ’23, who plays Donna, one of the leading characters, commented, “Running the show (no matter how clunky it is at first) is how all the unexpected issues, big or small, get sorted out.” 

Indeed, it takes a lot of effort to remember everything that has to be done at once, and Sarkis admitted, “Figuring out and memorizing my overall track through the show is always the hardest part for me.” For Mr. Johnson, the challenge lies in scheduling all the different elements of the show, including “vocal rehearsals, choreography, band rehearsals, and scene work.” He added, “[Mamma Mia!] has a lot of moving parts and is definitely more complicated than a traditional play.”

Besides performing for the audience, the members of the cast have many other jobs to do. Sarkis mentioned that during the few breaks, actors are tasked with “changing costumes, setting up for a later costume change, or grabbing a prop”… the list goes on and on! Sarkis also let us in on a secret: “I usually make a cheat sheet for myself during tech week and put it backstage so I can reference it during the show!” These “cheat sheets” usually include a list of all the scenes and are marked with the names of performers that are needed for each scene. They also include reminders for costume changes or grabbing specific props. 

Despite all the work, Sarkis “loves singing and dancing to so many iconic songs,” and Mr. Johnson believes that “this [show] is going to be a real crowd-pleaser!” One last thing: Sarkis is excited to reveal that “there are at least two times when characters crowd-surf onstage… and there’s a surprise at the end of the show!” Mamma Mia! will be performed at Winsor on February 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. We hope to see you all there!