GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Green Bay Southwest High School got groovy to the music and students strutted their stuff opening weekend of Mamma Mia!
If you don’t know what the hit musical Mamma Mia! is all about, here’s the short version – a mother, a daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you’re likely not going to forget. Plus, all of the songs are based on the pop group ABBA.
Local 5 was able to interview some of the cast and crew before their Sunday matinee and pick their brains about this season.
“Mamma Mia! is such a fun show. I think everybody, even if you don’t really know the story or you don’t know the songs that well, everybody can have fun watching it. And I knew I wanted to be in a show that was so fun and that I could just have a good time participating in it,” explained Eleana Anderson, a senior who plays the role of Lisa.
“I’ve been in [theater] for all of my years in high school – even virtual musicals, so just ending on Mamma Mia!, which is such an upbeat colorful show, it’s a great way to end a high school career,” added senior Jadeyn Brusky, who acts as Alli.
“We chose Mamma Mia! because [it] is a musical that is just fun and that is something that the world really needs today,” said Tiffany Uitenbroek, the Co-Musical Director.
Speaking of fun, both seniors say they were able to create some lasting memories while rehearsing for the show.
“It’s been a long four months for sure of rehearsals but honestly, just the unexpected moments like the blooper outtakes I guess you could call them. The things you don’t expect,” said Brusky. “Sometimes you just break out into dance on stage and do silly things that make you laugh.”
Anderson also agrees and says she thinks working with the cast really made it worth it. “Like, it’s such an amazing group of students and we’re all so dedicated to the show and there’s so much talent. Just being around that is really inspiring and it’s what makes me come back – the people,” she explained. “The process can sometimes be hard, long nights and long days, but at the end of the day we’re all in it together and that’s what makes it worth it.”
But just like in Mamma Mia!, there were a few challenges the cast and crew had to overcome.
“Managing a job, homework, and an eight-hour school day and then coming to rehearsal for the two and a half hour nights, plus even on weekends – but we do have nights off. It’s just kind of hard to have that work-life balance,” said Brusky. “But it’s been a really great experience. It’s really paying off now.”
“Yeah, it’s worth it,” agreed Anderson.
The pandemic is also one of the biggest challenges the school has had to overcome.
“I don’t think we had a whole rehearsal with everyone. We always had somebody sick or somebody on quarantine because a sibling, mom, or dad were sick. So that was a challenge, trying to get that cast togetherness and get every scene blocked out exactly right was a challenge,” explained Uitenbroek.
Last year students performed virtually with Night at the Musical Museum. This year they had to wear masks during rehearsal.
“Singing and dancing with a mask on can be difficult sometimes but now that we are actually performing and we get to do it without masks it feels so easy,” said Brusky.
And one of the unique ways that make Green Bay Southwest High School’s theater program stand out is the donations they collect during intermission.
“So every musical we choose a community organization and to collect donations for during intermission. In past years we did the Safe Drive program in Green Bay and Golden House. This year we are collecting donations for House of Hope.” explained Anderson. “Every year that we do that an outreach correspondent comes and talks to us about the organization, teaches the cast and crew about what they do, talks about how they can raise awareness or volunteer with them, and we collect a lot of donations.”
“We’re performing for a cause,” added Brusky.
The school is also participating in the Fox Cities Performing Art Center’s (PAC) Center Stage program this year. Theater programs are able to get their shows critiqued by a team that gives feedback to directors and students leading up to the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Showcase event in May.
“This is our fifth year of being in Center Stage. We started with [the program] when it first started – that was our Beauty and the Beast year – and we have had just great engagement and opportunities through Center Stage. Our students have done the workshops. It’s much more than a competition,” explained Uitenbroek. “It’s an overall program that really helps our students grow.”
Green Bay Southwest High School is performing Mamma Mia! on the following days at 1331 Packerland Drive in Green Bay:
- February 11-12 at 7:00 p.m.
- February 13 at 2:00 p.m.
- February 18-19 at 7:00 p.m.
The cast and crew say masks must be worn in the building and throughout the performance. Ticket information can be found by clicking here.
For more information about the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program, click here. And if you are curious about what’s next on the playbill for the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, click here.