LHS’ Mamma Mia Receives High Praise

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LHS’ Mamma Mia Receives High Praise

Rebecca Wehner, Staff Writer

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What a night! On January 11, Ludlow High School’s production of Mamma Mia entranced the audience with hilarious dialogue, dramatic songs and high-energy dance numbers.

“Mamma Mia” follows a young woman named Sophie Sheridan, who reads the diary of her mother, Donna, to see if she can discover the identity of her father and invite him to her wedding as a surprise. In reality, Donna had been with three men around the same time–Sam, Bill and Harry–so Sophie invites all of them! Donna is shocked to see the men again on the island where they met so long ago, and along with her best friends Tanya and Rosie, she does her best to ensure her daughter’s wedding goes off without a hitch!

The cast left the school that night feeling proud and accomplished, and rightly so, for they had faced quite the array of obstacles to achieve this path of success.

The high school has experienced some difficulty regarding the drama club throughout the years. While Veteran’s Park Elementary School and Paul R. Baird Middle School showcase their students’ theatrical talent every year without fail, LHS always seems to fall a little flat, be it a lack of publicity or a lack of interest. Young actors entering the high school found themselves disappointed when there were no shows to try out for, and longed for a change.

That change came about this year in the form of Vet’s Park’s Drama Club leaders, Nicole Sousa and Christine James. The pair began directing plays at the elementary school in 2011 with the production of Annie Junior (I personally played the esteemed role of the apple seller). This became a tradition, and every year since then Ms. Sousa and Ms. James have gained a wide audience for their shows. When our principal told them about our Drama Club struggles, they were more than willing to help.

The decision to enlist the help of the Vet’s Park teachers, as well as the play title and audition date, was announced not long after. The school was abuzz with chatter about who was planning to try out, and what their expectations were. The tryout list was filled to the brim, and when the day of the audition came and went, everyone anxiously awaited the results.

One week later, each member of the cast received an email containing the cast list, and again students grew excited about the prospect of a good show. Unfortunately, not everyone was quite so happy. The first few weeks of rehearsing came with a heavy sprinkling of dropouts, including a few prominent roles. With less than two months to assemble a show, anxiety replaced excitement and stress began to seep in.

Berkant Boluk, who played the character Sky in the show, experienced a fair amount of doubt as the number of actors thinned out and rehearsal times and dates had to be moved around.

“As we went along, we lost a lot of people,” Boluk recalled. “We got a bunch of bad news from the start, and…I didn’t know if we were going to do too well.”

The cast was initially frustrated and worried about the outcome, but Ms. Sousa and Miss James are not the type of people to just give up. Supporting roles slid into main roles, and talented ensemble members filled any empty slots. Rehearsals were lengthened, and students got together outside of school to rehearse and memorize lines.

In truth, the final week leading up to the show is when we really stepped up. The ensemble filled the stage with energy and song, and lines were delivered humorously and at the right times. The dress rehearsal went surprisingly smooth for the most part, and everyone started to get excited.

Much to everyone’s joy, the production of Mamma Mia was a smash hit! Audience members tried to catch the actors during intermission and after the show to congratulate them. Junior Emilie Hoffman even remarked that she was “cracking up so much that [she] was told to shut up three times.”

“We ended up having a really good cast,” said Nathan Doyle, who played Sam in the show. “We were super productive; there were still some trip-ups every now and then, but in the end we did phenomenal.”

Audience reviews were plentiful as well–here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

“I loved it…I thought that Donna’s friends were great. I especially loved the scene with Sara Ketchale and Jacob Garcia, and the scene with [Rebecca Wehner] and Abram Saloom…I think you guys did a great job portraying the characters and I think the directors do a great job casting you guys.”   -Joanne Santos-Pontes, Portuguese teacher

“When I first went to go see the play, I was a little skeptical…but I thought the kids did a great job and…as a former member of the drama club I’m happy to see it live on and…do great things.” -Jon Rumplik, Senior

“I was really impressed with the singing, and I thought Josh was really funny, and Brielle was great, obviously…it exceeded my expectations.” -Jessica Parker, Junior

After an impressive audience turnout of over 500 people and such flattering reviews, Ms. James and Ms. Sousa are excited to come back next year to direct another amazing show. I believe the LHS Drama Club has a lot to look forward to!

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