BWW Interviews: MAMMA MIA's 'Tanya Who Sings Opera'

BWW Interviews: MAMMA MIA's 'Tanya Who Sings Opera'

Gabrielle Mirabella is a trained classical soprano who's now strutting her stuff as a Dancing Queen in the national tour of MAMMA MIA as it comes to Minneapolis Feb. 18-23, 2014. Mirabella thinks that may surprise some fans of the jukebox musical fueled by ABBA music from the 1970s. "I'm the Tanya who sings opera," she said.

Tanya is the multiple divorcee best girlfriend of Donna (Georgia Kate Haege), along with practical, no-nonsense Rosie (Carly Sokolove), and the three form a former girl group, Donna and the Dynamos, who reunite at the site of a Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier for Donna's daughter, Sophie's, wedding. Sophie has secretly invited three men whom Donna had relationships with and one of which could be her father. Over 24 hours of chaos and magic, new love blooms and old romances are rekindled while Donna, Rosie and Tanya sing hits from their past, and ours.

Mirabella said that besides the infamous "Dancing Queen" number, the best part of the show for her is the finale when she and the girls do their big reveal wearing costumes from the Dynamos' past glory days (including a spandex costume she has 90 seconds to put on including platform boots lined with baby powder to help slide in fast) and have a big "mega mix moment." She particularly enjoygs the lights coming up on the audience where she sees people in the seats from little girls to older people shaking their "booties" and finally singing along with the show.

The thing she thinks audiences should watch for, or more accurately, listen for, is the ensemble whom she says is always singing on stage and behind the stage. She said four vocal groups always sound amazing and make her "feel a bit lazy, actually."

The Florida native is enjoying touring across the country but her most memorable time thus far was in October 2013 when performing in her home state in the city of Clearwater because her Tampa-area-based family and high school teachers were able to see her perform there. When she performed in Pensacola, Fla., the house was particularly small but enthusiastic and was her favorite audience because she said it was really apparent everyone wanted to be there. Audiences like these really transform the show for her and her castmates.

While Mirabella does not know much about Minneapolis aside from the fact that it's cold this time of year, the cool thing (no pun intended) is the chance to get to experience places she's never been before.

She's also happy to be touring and working in MAMMA MIA. Asked about her aspirations for the future, she'd love to eventually play the role of the mother in RAGTIME or the leading lady role in URINETOWN.

"Can I tell you one musical I'm kind of obssessed with right now?" she asked. (Of course you can!) "Adam Guettel's, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA."

But back in the land of ABBA music, she's content and enjoys the show night after night. Mirabella said, "I just want to keep working right now!"

MAMMA MIA takes the Orpheum back to the 70s with tunes like "Take a Chance on Me," "S.O.S" and "Money, Money, Money" from Feb. 18 - 23. TIckets are available at or 1-800-982-2787. For information about the tour, visit

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Kristen Hirsch Montag Kristen Hirsch Montag is a public relations/media rep for Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association by day and self-professed theatre geek by night. She regularly attends Minneapolis and Saint Paul productions and touring shows. She's been known to act in a few, as well. As an actress, she's done stage, film and TV projects and fits them in whenever possible. Kristen holds a bachelor's degree from Augsburg College in Theatre Arts and Communications.


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