Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the date of the musical's opening night, Thursday, Nov. 20.
Prior Lake High School theater students hope to get audiences out of their seats and dancing in the aisles with their latest production of the classic “Mamma Mia!” musical.
The musical uses the Swedish pop group Abba’s catalog of 1970s and ‘80s disco tracks to create a story about love and independence.
Audiences follow Sophie, a young bride-to-be in Greece desperate to identify her father on the eve of her wedding. Sophie invites the three most likely candidates to face the music, and her mother, before her big day. What ensues is organized chaos of beach bashes, sequined disco getups and a love triangle.
Senior Olivia Nelson plays Sophie’s mother, Donna, the woman at the center of the love triangle. As a avid performer in each of the theater program’s productions during her high school career, she said that auditioning for this show wasn’t even a question for her.
“I really think that a lot of people underestimate jukebox musicals because they don’t have the depth of a story built from a story, but I think this one is really special, and so does my director,” Nelson said. “I just wouldn’t miss it.”
Like Nelson, senior and stage manager Emily Nicholas has spent her high school career working in the theater program, though on the other side of the stage. She’s well-practiced at running the program’s one-act shows and spring plays but said “Mamma Mia!” is an entirely new beast.
On top of managing a crew of 35 other students, there’s the intricate seaside and wedding set to think about, not to mention the 40 student actors constantly dancing on- and off-stage.
“It’s insane, it’s awesome,” Nicholas said. “It proposes some unique challenges, but I think this is gearing up to be my favorite show I’ve ever done.”
The cast and crew worked their way through their first dress rehearsal Monday night. As the students exited the stage they appeared amiable and energized, barely phased by the process of putting on a two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza. Senior Ryan Fuller, who plays one of the would-be dads and love interests Sam, said that’s part of the magic of this show.
“Our production of the show can offer just a fun night for everyone involved,” Fuller said. “Everyone knows these songs. The whole musical makes you just want to get up and dance.”
Nelson agreed: “There’s a reason there’s three songs in the finale. I think after all the nitty-gritty that went into it and the emotion, the audience just needs to feel like they had fun.”
“Mamma Mia!” runs 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, to Saturday, Nov. 23, at the high school. There is a final matinee performance on Sunday, Nov. 24, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found under the theater section at plhsactivities.org.