DHS production of Mamma Mia! opens this weekend

Published 2:07 pm Monday, May 1, 2023


The musical “Mamma Mia!” will soon be gracing the stage of Gravely Hall Performing Arts Center, located at Danville High School. Both DHS and John W. Bate Middle School students are part of the cast and crew.

The show will run May 4-May 6. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. on May 4 and May 5, and at 8 p.m on May 6. The May 4 performance of “Mamma Mia!” will be interpreted for the hearing impaired.

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Tickets are available at the door 45 minutes prior to showtime each night. Price per ticket is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. The house will open 30 minutes prior to curtain each night.

The DHS Thespian Honor Society is hosting a food drive during the week of the show. As food prices rise, people in the community need help. Even one can of soup or a box of pasta makes a difference in people’s lives. Please bring non-perishable food items on the evening that you attend the performance. The food drive benefits New Hope Pantry in Danville.

Students have been rehearsing for the musical since auditions in January.

“The organizational work for auditions, rehearsals, set building and costume creation has included several seniors who take on leadership roles from informal mentoring to designing an element of the production to stage managing,” said DISD Arts Director Jane Dewey. “Music students join us to incorporate the recorded orchestration. The students are involved in all aspects of the production! We even have a student dance captain, who warms the students up for every rehearsal and works on choreography.”

There are almost 30 students in the cast and about 25 working on scenery, running technical and design elements, and working the front of the house.

“Mamma Mia! has a lot of singing and dancing,” Dewey said. “We knew this would challenge our students while allowing their talents to shine. DHS and Bate are full of talented students, and you will see many onstage. Several of our leads have substantial musical theater experience both from community and school shows. A few, including some of our high school students, have minimal experience, but strong voices, great acting instincts, and the ability to learn complex movement patterns. We are also fortunate to have some graduating seniors who have taken on leadership roles.”

Darell Rickmers, drama teacher for both DHS and Bate, said of the students involved with the show, there are 10 Bate students — seven as ensemble members and two backstage.

“This has been a very unique experience for middle school students to see the work that goes into a large production like this, while also contributing to the overall performance of the show,” he said.

Eighth grader Eliah Snyder said, “This is my first musical with the schools, and it’s been very surreal being a part of such an organized and amazing production. Also, being able to act as a middle schooler with high schoolers has been a very inspiring and professional experience.”

Junior Hayden Maples was hesitant to audition for “Mamma Mia!” because he was nervous about singing.

“However, after realizing my love for both acting and ABBA, I faced one of my biggest fears head-on and decided to audition,” Maples said. “I’m glad I did, as I ended up getting the exact part I wanted and am having a pretty surreal experience overall. It’s been incredibly hard work for everyone, but I believe the payoff will make every second we spent practicing worth it.”

“Mamma Mia!” has allowed sophomore Londyn Jackson, who plays Donna Sheridan, to play a role unlike any she has taken on before.

“This role has taught me so many things, and I’ve really stepped out of my comfort zone during this process,” she said. “I never thought I would get the chance to play her, but I’m so grateful and excited to have this opportunity. The rehearsal process has been long and tedious, but I know it will all come together in the end.”

The decision to audition for “Mamma Mia!” was a spontaneous one for sophomore Nicholas Lucas.

“What was originally a spontaneous venture turned into a great learning experience with people I don’t get to see often outside of school,” Lucas said. “I can say with confidence that it hasn’t been easy, but working towards the great show ‘Mamma Mia!’ is going to make it worth the while.”

Anna Sparrow, who plays the character Sophie, is excited to take on one of her favorite shows.

“‘Mamma Mia!’ has been a dream show of mine for years,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite shows of all time, and being able to play such an amazing character has been a wonderful experience. I’ve never loved playing a character as much as I’ve loved playing Sophie, and with the support from my cast, crew, and directors, I have the perfect chance to show her off.”

Mamma Mia!” is the story of a young bride-to-be and her family and friends as they approach her wedding day, told through hit songs by the popular 1970’s and 80’s group ABBA. “Mamma Mia!” contains some mild adult language and situations.