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Moonlight Amphitheatre Opens 38th Season With ABBA Pop Musical MAMMA MIA!

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Special to  thevistapress.com Marcia Manna — Vista, CA …Moonlight Stage Productions will open its 38th season with “Mamma Mia!” from June 13-30, 2018, and with romance that spans the generations, a score by the Swedish band ABBA and themes of female empowerment, the show is both timeless and timely.

The original “Mamma Mia!,”  reputed to be the longest running jukebox musical on Broadway,  also inspired a 2008 film starring Meryl Streep, along with a sequel that opens in movie theaters next month.

The story centers around young, soon-to-be-married Sophie (played by Katie Sapper), who wants the dad she never met to walk her down the aisle. After reading her mom’s diary, she secretly invites three of her mother’s old flames to the Greek island she calls home. Her single mom, Donna Sheridan, (played by Bets Malone), was once a professional singer but now makes her living as the owner of a small hotel.

Top, L-R: Lyndon Pugeda (Musical Director and Conductor), Lance Arthur Smith (playing Bill Austin), Nicholas Sloan (playing Sky), John Vaughan (Director and Choreographer), Robert J. Townsend (playing Sam Carmichael), Jason W. Webb (playing Harry Bright), and Steven Glaudini (Moonlight Producing Artistic Director). Seated, left to right: Karyn Overstreet (playing Rosie), Katie Sapper (playing Sophie Sheridan), Bets Malone (playing Donna Sheridan), and Barbara Schoenhofer (playing Tanya) Ken Jacques Photography

Donna has no idea her former lovers are about to show up for the festivities. Luckily her two friends, who sang beside her when she fronted the band Donna and the Dynamos, provide emotional support. When they break into the song “Dancing Queen,” wearing skin-tight jumpsuits studded with rhinestones, well, it’s a party. 

The staging is perfect because everything takes place in an environment very similar to the one in the story.

 “Being outside is going to be great for our presentation of ‘Mamma Mia!,’” says Malone.

“We have great San Diego weather and that will add a whole different dimension. It will be like we are all on an island watching a show.”

Sapper, a 26-year-old actress who last worked with Malone in Moonlight’s 2016 production of “Titanic the Musical,” agrees.

“I don’t think there is anything that beats being on the Moonlight stage at sunset,” Sapper says.

“You see stars through the trees and so many people. There is a magical quality and it takes your breath away. We were blocking the opening number at rehearsal and the director, John Vaughan, said it will be sunset, so you’ll get to see everybody in the audience. It’s so cool to witness that energy and excitement at the top of a show. After the overture of the classic hits of ABBA, which includes  “Momma Mia!’ and “Dancing Queen,’ we tell a story that happens during a wild and crazy 24 hours.”

The wild and crazy begins when the three potential fathers, Sam (played by Robert J. Townsend, who also played Sam on Broadway), Bill (Lance Arthur Smith) and Harry (Jason W. Webb) show up.

In “Mamma Mia!”,” the characters and their relationships evolve in a way that resonates to audiences of all ages.

“The mother-daughter bond is wonderful,” Malone says. “There’s a theme of people taking their destiny by the horns and powering through. I’m also excited about doing the show with Katie, who plays my daughter. She’s a dear friend and I just love her-it will be fun for the two of us.”

Malone says her favorite ABBA song is “Thank You for the Music” and she intends to deliver it “the way the audience wants to hear it.”

“I think it’s a mistake when people take a famous recording and then riff all over the place,” Malone says.

“But that is a challenge in itself. You want to make it unique and you want it to have your own stamp but you also have to serve the piece they come to listen to. I’m excited about it.”

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  • Published: 2 weeks ago on June 7, 2018
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  • Last Modified: June 8, 2018 @ 9:58 pm
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