MAMMIA MIA Opens At The Walnut

MAMMIA MIA Opens At The WalnutWalnut Street Theatre concludes its landmark 209th season with the ultimate feel-good musical, MAMMA MIA! Filled with ABBA's catchiest hits, and directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, this high energy musical begins previews on May 15th, opens on May 23rd, and runs through July 15th on the Walnut Mainstage.

Put on your platform shoes, your feather boas and get ready for one of the most popular musicals of all time, MAMMA MIA! On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. This sensational all-new Walnut Street Theatre production, with new staging and original choreography, contains ABBA's greatest hits, including "Super Trouper," "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," and over 20 more!

MAMMA MIA! initially opened in London on April 6, 1999 and continues to play to sold-out houses to this day. It made its Broadway debut on November 17, 2000 and played for 15 years, becoming the 9th longest-running Broadway production. Since then, it has played to over 60 million people in more than 50 countries across 6 continents.

In 2008, it was adapted as a film starring Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan, Amanda Seyfried as Sophia Sheridan, and Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael. Based on its critical and financial success, a sequel is currently in the works. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released in theatres on July 20, 2018 featuring more of ABBA's greatest hits with most of the cast reprising their roles.

It is said that on any given day, there are at least seven performances of MAMMA MIA! taking place around the world. It has been translated into 22 languages and has premiered in more cities faster than any musical in history. The original production in 1999 brought a renaissance to ABBA's music, reinstating the album ABBA Gold to the top of the music charts for the second time in 15 years.

Richard Stafford returns to the Walnut as director and choreographer of MAMMA MIA! His previous Walnut credits include direction and choreography for last season's smash Saturday Night Fever, Sister Act, Memphis, Curtains, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Beauty and the Beast, and Cats, as well as choreography for The Goodbye Girl, La Vie en Bleu, and Evita. On Broadway, Stafford was choreographer for In My Life, associate choreographer for Aspects of Love, and dance supervisor for Cats. His work has been seen on the National Tours of Cats (director/choreographer), My Fair Lady (choreographer) and Joseph...Dreamcoat (choreographer), as well as numerous regional and international stages. Joining Stafford is Music and Vocal Director John Daniels, whose many Walnut credits include A Funny Thing...Forum, Annie, and Saturday Night Fever.

Anne Brummel makes her Walnut debut as Donna Sheridan. She most recently performed as Elphaba on Broadway and the National Tour of Wicked and has performed in the national tours of Evita, Cats (directed by Richard Stafford), and The Scarlet Pimpernel. She has performed regionally with Riverside Theatre, Sacramento Music Circus, and Meadow Brook Theatre. Her fellow "Dynamos," Tanya and Rosie, will be played by Lyn Philistine and Charis Leos, respectively. Leos makes her Walnut debut in the production and has performed regionally at the Fulton and Maine State Music Theatre. Philistine was most recently seen on the Walnut stage as Lily St. Regis in Annie. Sophie's three potential fathers will be played by Jonas Cohen (Harry Bright), Eric Kunze (Sam Carmichael), and Christopher Sutton (Bill Austin). Cohen made his Walnut debut earlier this season as Cosmé McMoon in Souvenir. Sutton has performed many times at the Walnut in shows including The Buddy Holly Story, Annie, Elf, and The Wizard of Oz. Kunze was last seen at the Walnut as the Teen Angel in Grease and most recently traveled the country playing Prince Eric on the National Tour of The Little Mermaid.

Laura Giknis, who audiences will remember from Grease and Sister Act, will play Donna's daughter, Sophie, and Schuyler Conaway (South Pacific) will play Sky. Tara Tagliaferro (Annie) and Kathryn Miller (Annie) will play Sophie's best friends, Ali and Lisa. Billy D. Hart (Annie, Forum) returns to the Walnut as Eddie, and Christopher deProphetis (Saturday Night Fever, Plaid Tidings) as Father Alexandrios. Brett-Marco Galuser, in his Walnut debut, plays Pepper.

In the ensemble, the Walnut welcomes back Anthony Avino (Saturday Night Fever), Jesse Jones (Wizard of Oz), Cody Knable (Christmas Story), Adam Mandala (How to Succeed), Kimberly Maxson (Forum), Owen Pelesh (South Pacific), Kristyn Pope (Saturday Night Fever), and welcomes Walnut newcomers Evan Autio, Taylor Fields, Taylor Elise Rector, Kristi Smith, and Jet Thomas.

Scenic Designer Peter Barbieri (Saturday Night Fever, Sister Act, Memphis) returns to lead the design team in transporting the audience to the enchanting Greek locale. Joining Barbieri in creating the feather boas and disco balls are Costume Designer Gail Baldoni, Lighting Designer Jack Mehler, and Sound Designer David Temby.

MAMMA MIA! runs at the Walnut May 15 through July 15. Open captioning will be available for the 7pm performance on Sunday, June 10. The Tuesday, July 3 performance will be ASL interpreted and Audio Described. This production is sponsored by AIG and Scully Company. Media Partners are NBC 10 and Metro. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.

Photo: Laura Giknis and Schyler Conaway in Mamma Mia at Walnut Street Theatre. Photo by Holly Porch

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