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Thank You for the Music of Mamma Mia!

 

From left: Robin Lounsbury (as Rosie), Michelle Dawson (as Donna) and Heather Patterson King (as Tanya). Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

Mamma Mia! is at the Engeman Theater until September 11, 2016. From left: Robin Lounsbury (as Rosie), Michelle Dawson (as Donna) and Heather Patterson King (as Tanya). Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

The perfect summer musical is already engaging audiences at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater, now through September 11, 2016. Mamma Mia! takes it all and gives it all–another successful production with an enormously talented cast led by the amazing director and choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo, who returns to Engeman after successful choreography of Memphis, Miracle on 34th Street, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Evita!, The Music Man, South Pacific, Hairspray, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, and NunsenseMamma Mia! is produced by Richard T. Dolce, the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

The band in this musical is such a key to its success showcasing the pop songs of ABBA, and Engeman’s band knocks it out of the theater with Alexander Rovang as Conductor and Keyboard; Anthony Brindisi on Keyboard 2; Douglas Baldwin on guitars; Russ Brown on bass; and Josh Endlich on drums.

Tickets are going fast and shows have been added to meet the demand (see www.EngemanTheater.com for the full schedule). Performances are on Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00. Some Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at www.EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.

This Tony Award-nominated musical was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, and is based on the songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA. Music was composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, former members of the band ABBA, who were involved with the production from the start. The show premiered on London’s West End in 1999, making its way to its Broadway premiere in 2001, where it ran for 14 years (most of that run at the Winter Garden Theater).

Memorable hit songs include “The Winner Takes It All,” “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Thank You for the Music,” and “Voulez-Vous,” among others.

The cast of Mamma Mia! features the incredible Michelle Dawson who plays the lead Donna Sheridan and played the same part in Mamma Mia! on Broadway. Her acting is spot on and she plays the role seamlessly. Having seen the Broadway version of the musical about 4 years ago, I was impressed with Engeman’s version. Other Broadway credits for Dawson include Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Ragtime, Showboat, & Cyrano.

 The show centers around a plot that unfolds on a Greek island paradise (kudos to the creative team that includes DT Willis for the amazing scenic design). Donna’s daughter  Sophie is about to get married and is on a quest to discover the identity of her father (all of Act 1 is the day before the wedding); Act 2 takes place the day of the wedding.

Hannah Slabaugh (as Sophie) and Sean Hayden (as Sam). Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

Hannah Slabaugh (as Sophie) and Sean Hayden (as Sam). Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

The trio of possible fathers are invited to the wedding by bride-to-be Sophie. They return to the island they first visited 21 years before when they met Donna.

Bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan is played by Hannah Slabaugh who makes her Engeman debut in Mamma Mia! Her credits include the National Tour of Annie; Regional Theater: Les Miserables (Eponine), Next to Normal (Natalie). Her groom-to-be is Jacob Dickey whose credits include Regional: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Theatre Raleigh), Mamma Mia! (Royal Caribbean), Next to Normal (Charleston Stage).

Sophie’s possible dads are played, at times hilariously, by the three actors Sean Hayden, Jeff Williams, and Frank Vlastnik, who are all Donna’s boyfriends from 21 years before. Hayden is Sam Carmichael (Broadway national tours: Lincoln Centers The Light in the Piazza and Mamma Mia! Off Broadway: Confidentially, Cole; Williams is Bill Austin (Broadway/National Tour: The Music Man, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Pirate Queen, A Christmas Carol, The Will Rogers Follies, Me and My Girl); and Vlastnik as Harry Bright (Engeman Theater: The Sunshine Boys; Broadway: A Year with Frog and Toad, Sweet Smell of Success, Big. Off-Broadway: Sondheim’s Saturday Night).

Notable performances are made by both of Donna’s girlfriends Tanya and Rosie. Heather Patterson King, who delights the audience in her role as Tanya, is a long-time friend of Donna’s who returns to the island for the wedding. King’s credits include Regional and NY: Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wizard of Oz. The character of Rosie is performed by Robin Lounsbury, whose credits include Regional: Fulton Theatre, Barrington Stage, Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre.

The cast also includes: Lydia Ruth Dawson, Joey Dippel, Jay Gamboa, Christopher Hlinka, Stephanie Israelson, Yurina Kutsukake, Darius Jordan Lee, Suzanne Mason, Edward Miskie, Anjuli Regnier, Avery Royal, and Jennifer Seifter.

The creative team includes DT Willis for scenic design, Tristan Raines for costume design, Adam Honore for lighting design, Adam Shubert for sound design, Gayle Seay and Scott Wojcik as casting directors, Wojcik/Seay Casting, Kristie Moschetta for props design, Denise Wilcox as production/stage manager, and Megan E. Coutts as assistant stage manager.

 

 

 

 

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