Fans of the smash hit Mamma Mia! just can’t help themselves.
They often get up and dance in the aisles.
For many of those streaming into the South Okanagan Events Centre on Aug. 18 for the 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. show, the blockbuster musical will be like the soundtrack of their youth.
“The tag-line for the show is Broadway’s non-stop party,” explained Devin Archer, 24, a member of the ensemble who sings and dances.
Energetic performers with big personalities were something they were looking for while casting for the touring production.
“I think Mamma Mia! is quite different,” said Archer. “There’s a story, and it’s fun and kind of wild, but we are also responsible for sharing the music of ABBA and bringing it to life.”
Mamma Mia! the stage musical was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, with pop/dance tunes by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former band members. Hit songs range from Dancing Queen, and SOS to Take a Chance on Me, and Knowing Me, Knowing You.
The story of Mamma Mia! is about an independent, single mom who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island. Donna is about to let go of Sophie, her spirited daughter she’s raised on her own, with a big wedding. But little does she know, Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own.
On a quest to find the identity of her real dad, she brings back three suitors from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Over 24 hours, new love will bloom and old romances will be rekindled.
The tour has been going for almost two years, and Archer joined the cast out of Chicago in April.
“We get to do this high energy, fun show that leaves our audiences with a smile. That’s something we take a whole lot of pleasure from,” he said.
The stats for the stage musical are so impressive as to render them almost unbelievable.
It’s been enjoyed by a staggering 50 million people around the world. The current North American tour has played 4,000 performances in 166 cities.
“It’s been a big week,” Archer admitted, when reached on his cell phone from the tour in Regina, Sask.. “People ask me where I was last week and I have to wrack my brain to come up with an answer.”
It’s all a bit of a blur. They’re doing five cities in seven days, with a total of six shows, through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.
They hop on tour buses at the crack of dawn, drive to a new city, and get ready for a morning sound check.
“Then we get on stage later that night and give people our all. We give the show 100 per cent,” he said, adding that what most people might not realize is what’s involved “shlepping” across the continent with such a large-scale production.
The Northwestern University grad said the production calls for a performer who can provide a lot of energy and personality.
“It really requires that of the cast, and to constantly have new ideas on stage. So we encourage our fellow cast mates to have fun out there every night and hopefully that gets translates to the audience.”
It’s definitely working. Fans in most cities find the last 10 minutes offering an irresistible “mega mix” of ABBA songs.
“That gets most of the audience up and dancing in the aisles,” Archer added.
The performers enjoy that joyful reaction very much.
“We like to encourage the people watching to get up and have fun with us.”
Tickets are available at the SOEC box office, Penticton Wine Country Visitor Centre, by telephone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX or online at www.ValleyFirstTix.com.