OTTUMWA — Let the Indian Hills theater department transport you to Greece this weekend.
“‘Mamma Mia! was not even available for nonprofessional companies to perform, so we have been waiting for years for that status to change,” said Dr. Jennifer Boyenga, director of the production. “Last spring, we were trying to decide on our theater season and it popped up in my email that it was available. I took it to the directing team, and we were all in agreement that it was a show that needed to be done in southeast Iowa. It was the right cast size, budget and band for Indian Hills.”
“It’s been fun creating a Greek Island taverna as the backdrop of ‘Mamma Mia,’” said Dr. Ray Slavens, technical director. “Our students have taken on a large role in creating the setting for this contemporary romantic comedy.”
The story centers on young bride Sophie and her mother Donna. Sophie secretly invites three of Donna’s former boyfriends to her mother’s Greek resort to try to sort out which one is her father in time to walk her down the aisle. Throughout the tale, audience members will be able to enjoy the music of Abba, a 1970s disco-era rock and pop band, Boyenga said.
“The storylines of tribute musicals are written so that the music of the artist or genre of music is worked into the plot line,” she said. Indian Hills’ production will feature a live band under the direction of Professor David Sharp and features local professional musicians and student musicians.
Boyenga said rehearsals have been ongoing since mid-January. “It’s been about four months. That’s how long it takes to get a major musical, with the vocals, the dancing, the lines, the band and the tech to all come together. I’m excited to see how it all comes together and to see the audience enjoy the performance.”
Lovers of the 2008 movie need not worry a whole lot will change. “The movie version and the stage version are very similar,” Boyenga said. “It’s more that the songs are in a different order, but the storylines are almost identical. The people that enjoyed the movie will enjoy the stage version just as much.”
Why is this a production people keep returning to?
“That’s easy,” Boyenga said. “Because it makes people want to stand up and dance and sing along with it, just like they did in the 1970s when the band was very popular around the world. It’s a feel-good show; people leave happy.”
Ottumwa Courier Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen @ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.
IF YOU GO
Four performances of “Mamma Mia!” are set. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at St. John Auditorium with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday. Tickets are free, but Boyenga said seat reservations are recommended.
“We do expect huge crowds for this, so we’re opening the ticket stand for seat reservations 45 minutes before show time.”
Those wanting to make advanced seat reservations can call 641-683-5144.