BROOKINGS – After staging its plays at the Fishback Studio Theatre and its summer musicals at Brookings High School’s Bell Auditorium, the Brookings Community Theatre troupe will stage its next production, starting Friday, at a new venue: in the proscenium theater at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center.
“I’m honored to be part of this amazing theater,” said “Mamma Mia” director Mike Thompson. “We were invited to be here this year, and it’s something we’d like to continue.”
Thompson is one of BCT’s more seasoned directors, with five or six plays to his credit. His most recent job as director was the production of “Radium Girls” in the Fishback Studio Theater in October 2018.
Following a role in “Daddy Warbucks” awhile back, he decided last year that he “didn’t want to act anymore. I hung up my shoes as it were. I’d rather be on the creative side. I direct a lot for BCT.”
For “Mamma Mia,” Thompson is working with a total cast of 29 people – 13 with speaking roles and the remainder in a vocal ensemble.
In “Mamma Mia,” dedicated BCT theatergoers will see a more detailed and sophisticated set than they’ve witnessed in past productions, such as rigging that allows for more backdrops and rigging changes.
Check out the 14 feet by 36 feet backdrop painted by Ronda Kantack, a veteran BCT trouper who at times also works behind the scenes. It represents well a small Greek town in the Mediterranean.
She got the job done over three days. First she had to white-out the canvas before taking a couple days to paint a scene that fits the play.
“We now have rigging,” Thomson said. As to working the new venue, he said, “It’s been a whirlwind and I love it.
Who’s her father?
The play’s setting is an island (unnamed) off the shore of Greece, and it starts the day before Sophie Sheridan’s wedding. Sophie, in a search to find her birth father, reads her mother Donna’s diary and narrows the choice down to three possible men.
Posing as her mother, Sophie sends wedding invitations to the three men to get them to come to the island. She believes that as soon as she sees them, she’ll be able to recognize her father right away.
But she can’t. Meanwhile each man believes he may be Sophie’s father. Donna, however, is perfectly happy in her independence and doesn’t want to see any of the men again.
In the end, Sophie decides she doesn’t want to find out who her father is.
“The story is all based on music by ABBA (a Swedish pop group popular in the 1970s and 1980s),” Thompson explained. “If they’re young, they grew up listening to their parents listening to ABBA; if they’re older, like me, I grew up listening to ABBA.
“They’re all catchy tunes. We’re going to have the audience singing along at the end. It just makes you smile when you sing them.”
Key roles go to: Alexis Britson (Donna Sheridan); Macy Swanson (Sophie Sheridan); Caleb Woodring (Sam Carmichael); Thomas Thvedt (Bill Austin); Jacob Womack (Harry Bright); and Zander Larson (Sky).
For Swanson, this marks her BCT debut. But she doesn’t lack experience. She graduated from South Dakota State University this spring with a degree in theater and a degree in communication studies.
“I have about 18 years of theater experience under my belt,” she explained. “I’ve been acting since I was about 3 (years old).” And she likes her role.
“I’m usually more of a goofy, playful, funny character,” she explained. “So this is definitely a step out of my comfort zone, to be the love interest. It’s been a challenge, but a good challenge.”
Also making her BCT debut – sort of – is Kathy Winghart in the role of Rosie, one of Donna Sheridan’s friends, a published author and a down-to-earth character. This is Winghart’s first time on the boards in a BCT production; but she’s no stranger to BCT audiences.
“I’ve always been in the pits as music director,” she explained. “I haven’t been on stage in 28 years. It’s been really fun to be back on stage and get the opportunity to sing.
“I’m an orchestra director, so we don’t get to sing a lot.” And she too likes the character she’s playing.
“She’s funny. Of Donna’s three friends, Rosie is the funniest.”
Plenty of performances
“Mamma Mia” offers multiple shows, all in the proscenium theater at the PAC, over two weekends as scheduled below:
• Friday, July 19, 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 20, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, July 21, 2 p.m.
• Friday, July 26, 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, July 28, 2 p.m.
Cost is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and children, and $5 for children younger than 8. Tickets are available at The Brookings Book Company, The Optical Shop, at the door one hour prior to the show, and online at www.brookingscommunitytheatre.org.
A dinner-and-show fundraiser is also available to patrons of the Saturday performances, starting at 5 p.m. For $30 ($20 for BCT season-ticket holders) patrons will get a ticket to the performance and a dinner catered by Mama Mia Italian Restaurant at the PAC. The buffet-style dinner will include both Italian and Greek options, salad and bread sticks. Wine will be available for purchase.
Contact John Kubal at [email protected]