Mamma Mia makes a comeback after two years

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The musical Mamma Mia ends with “Waterloo.” The eight main characters —Harry Bright, played by Ray Kan (‘24), Bill Anderson, played by Stratton Rebish (‘24), Sophie Sheridan, played by Kiera Yap (‘22), Sky Ramand, played by Jonathan Lou (‘22), Donna Sheridan, played by Eunice Lau (‘23), Sam Carmichael, played by Gerry Song (‘22), Tanya Chesham-Leigh, played by Mia Baldwin (‘22), and Rosie Mulligan, played by Sofia Centeno (‘22) — lead the audience in clapping and dancing while dressed in bright colorful costumes.

At 3 p.m. on January 25th, you might’ve heard ABBA’s opening track from their third album, Mamma Mia, playing loudly at the museum steps. Whether you were in front of the dining hall or on Chandler field, you could overhear the distant sounds of a celebration. In this moment, Webb’s Fine Arts Department Chair, Stefanie Plumley, was announcing Webb’s spring production, Mamma Mia. On May 19th, 20th, and 21st, the cast finally performed the show in the Liu Chung Theater. However, this wasn’t the only time that the theatre program had planned to put on this musical. 

In early spring of 2020, Ms. Plumley originally decided she wanted Mamma Mia to be that year’s annual musical. Due to the pandemic, however, her plans drastically and unexpectedly changed. By the time mid-March came around, she and the cast had already put together a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, the show eventually had to be cancelled altogether.  

“It was heartbreaking, obviously; we had just completed blocking, memorizing, and choreographing act one when we got the news,” Ms. Plumley said.  

Working closely with the actors, members who worked on the set of the musical accomplished a lot of projects too.  

“The crew had completed the lighting plans for hanging and focusing the lights, installing new audio equipment in the theater, began constructing many props, scenic paint samples, as well as repurposing set pieces to be temporarily constructed in the Copeland Donahue,” said Alex Valdez, Head of Webb’s Technical Crew. “A partial rehearsal set had just been loaded into the Copeland Donahue the day before we shutdown. Overall, we were a good third of the way through production.” 

Before the conditions of the pandemic drastically worsened, members of Webb’s theatre program expected to be back in a few weeks. Kiera Yap (‘22), who had looked forward to playing one of the main characters, Sophie, was one of many disappointed students to find out that the musical was being cancelled altogether due to COVID-19’s increasing positive cases.  

“To be honest, just like everyone else at the time, we all thought we would be back after Spring Break,” Kiera said. “At the moment, I really thought we would be coming back or at least doing some online rendition. When I found out the show was cancelled, it was really sad for a lot of us.” 

“We had put in a lot of work, and we had a really wonderful cast,” Sofia Centeno (‘22) said. “I was really looking forward to putting on the show, so to find out it was canceled was very sad.”  

Although the cast was unable to perform the musical, Ms. Plumley still organized a small celebration for the graduating seniors.  

“We did try to have a cast party as usual on the day that it would have been the cast party,” Ms Plumley said. “We delivered bottles of Martinelli’s Cider to all the seniors because that’s how we usually celebrate. So, we drove around and delivered all those bottles and basically had a cast party on zoom, which was great in many ways. The seniors were really excited to at least have that party and reflect on their entire careers of Webb theatre, but on the other hand, it was kind of melancholic and sad.”  

Although the cast had to accept the fact that they would not be performing Mamma Mia in 2020, students in the class of 2022 were given another chance this year.  

“I picked Mamma Mia this year so that those who were freshmen and sophomores at the time could have closure,” Ms. Plumley said. “We’re giving them a chance to finish what they started. We’ve been through a lot in the past two years, and by we, I mean actors, students, educators, community parents, everybody. Mamma Mia is a show that everybody loves, and it’s a great bringer of joy. It’ll be like a party or a celebration of coming back together.” 

The musical ended up being a huge success. From nostalgia to the lively music and dancing, the show was just what the community needed.