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Staples Players Presents MAMMA MIA!

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Staples Players Presents MAMMA MIA!

A mother. A daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you'll never forget! Fueled by the music of a band beloved by all generations and packed with explosive dance numbers and non-stop laughs, Mamma Mia! is the ultimate feel-good show. Add choreographers who performed in the Broadway show and national tour-Christopher Hudson Myers and Rachel MacIsaac-and Staples Players rendition of the smash hit is a must-see. David Roth (SHS '84) and Kerry Long (SHS '97) co-direct the cast of 63 who will appear in eight performances from November 15 - 23.

ABBA's lyrics inspire the hilarious and enchanting tale of Sophie's quest to discover the identity of her father. On the eve of her wedding, she brings three men from her mother's past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years before. The sunny and funny story that unfolds is fabulous fun for everyone-both on stage and in the audience.

"I've been an ABBA fan since I was 10," says Roth, "so it's very fun to revisit some of my favorite songs. It's also always exciting to do a show that has so much buzz in our incredibly supportive community-especially enough to warrant adding an eighth show!" (The Nov. 16 matinee was added due to popular demand.) "We truly love collaborating with Chris and Rachel, so it's a pleasure to do a show that means so much to them. It is fun to get all of the insight that could only be given by someone who 'lived' this play as long as they did. We are even getting a chance to talk to and work with Broadway's 'Tanya'!"

The Players choreographers' history with the show dates back to 2010, when Myers was cast in the North American tour as a swing. In 2011, MacIsaac, who is also Myers' dance partner for life as his wife, was cast as a swing and Myers was named dance captain. Together, the couple toured from Vancouver to Miami. In Canada they performed to sold out hockey arenas that held 5,000+. MacIsaac recalls, "When we got to the finale, the entire crowd would be on their feet cheering and singing along. We felt like rock stars!"

In 2012, that leg of the tour closed and Myers was invited to join the Broadway show as dance captain and swing. He went on to cover the roles of Pepper and Eddie and stayed with the show until it closed in 2015. The pair relocated to Connecticut just as Players was seeking a new choreographer. The dynamic duo signed on, and it was only a matter of time before Westport had its own Broadway-caliber production of Mamma Mia!

"The dance numbers in Mamma Mia! are highly energetic and athletic with some very precise and technical dance mixed in," says MacIsaac. Audiences will recognize original Broadway choreography while also enjoying reimagined numbers. "Our hope is that we've honored the original and people who really know the show will see a lot of the familiar moments," explains MacIsaac, "but that it still feels like a Staples Players show."

From tapping on tables in Newsies to jump rope tricks in Legally Blonde, anyone who has watched a musical in recent years at Staples wonders how these teens pull off such advanced choreography. "We try to push the students beyond what they believe their limitations to be," says Myers. "We encourage and trust the students to work hard and practice on their own. We video the dance numbers for them to use as a reference. We also appoint a student dance captain (this year: Annabel Kavetas, SHS '20). During rehearsals, we pay close attention to details and push the students to want to do better."

Some cast members arrived at Staples with extensive dance training. Erin Lynch (SHS '20) who shares the role of Sophie with Sophie Rossman (SHS '21) studied at Ballet Etudes in Norwalk from 3rd through 9th grade, spending many hours a week at the barre and on her toes. That takes the determination of someone like her character. " Sophie is a really sweet girl who knows what she wants and won't let anybody tell her otherwise," says Lynch. "She is strong willed but also naively optimistic." Lynch loves the dance numbers "Honey Honey" and "Voulez Vous" and facing the challenge of singing a lot in this show: "I've always been shy about my voice. I think that the songs are also the most fun aspect though!" Lynch hopes to pursue a BFA in either musical theater or acting next year.

Jamie Mann (SHS '21), who shares the role of Sky (Sophie's fiancé) with Colin Konstanty (SHS '22), danced with Lynch at Ballet Etudes and went on to study at Alvin Ailey and School of American Ballet-commuting to the city on weekends and after school. He danced with New York City Ballet in three productions and as Billy Elliot in theaters from Florida to New Hampshire. "Having a background in dance lets me bring something to the table for the audience to enjoy and that makes me really happy," he says. His favorite number in the show is "Does Your Mother Know"-"it's fun and upbeat and I am so excited for audiences to see it and enjoy it as much as we do."

Camille Foisie (SHS '21), who plays Donna, Sophie's mom, has been training in ballet since age three and has added other genres in recent years, at studios from NYC to Trumbull. While she doesn't dance a lot in this show, she is loving developing her character. "I find relief when I drop into her because it is so freeing to play someone who lives moment to moment," says Foisie. "In rehearsals, I really try to leave everything that has been occurring throughout the day behind and to just leave it to me and my relationships with the others I am interacting with in scenes."

AnnaMaria Fernandez (SHS '20) plays Tanya, Donna's best friend. "She is what one can only describe as a 'cougar,'" says Fernandez. "She's had three husbands and a boatload of experience in that department. I prepared for this role, physically, by wearing heels around, getting fake nails, and doing my makeup. I also tried to increase my confidence by dressing how she would, if she were my age. She is a very confident woman, who loves being the most powerful in the room, so I had to learn to emulate that." Fernandez plans to pursue a BA in theater next year.

Justin Dusenbury (SHS '20), who also plans to pursue acting in college, plays one of Sophie's three potential dads: Harry, "a very proper, British gentleman who is serious about work and particular about things like his clothes but has an amazing sense of humor and likes to have fun. He also has a deep secret... If you are curious about that, come see the show to find out more!" Dusenbury adds, "When people come to see the show, no matter the mood they are in going into the theater they will come out of it happy."


$20 for adults, $15 for students, $15 for seniors (matinees only). Tickets may be purchased online at StaplesPlayers.com or in the lobby 30 minutes prior to performances, subject to availability.


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