By Dave Flaherty/Oshawa Express
One of Broadway’s longest running and critically acclaimed productions is finally making its way to Durham Region.
Dancyn Productions is presenting Mamma Mia! at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa with a full slate of shows between July 5 and July 30.
Joan Mansfield, founder and artistic director of Dancyn Productions, says she is “very proud” that her company has been given the opportunity to bring Mamma Mia! to the area.
Mansfield says Mamma Mia! became a highly-sought out production after its Broadway run ended in 2015 after 14 years.
“This is the first time the show has had a professional license,” Mansfield says. “Now that it’s off Broadway, the outside professional companies are grabbing the license and it’s a tough one to get.”
Mansfield says the fact Mamma Mia! is a new brand player in local theatre adds another layer of excitement to being part of the show and to her, it is the perfect time of year as well.
“What an appropriate show to do in summertime,” she says. “It’s romantic and fun. It has ‘sing-a-long’ music so the audience can get involved. Your toes are tapping the entire time.”
Of course, these are the songs of ABBA, on which Mamma Mia!’s storyline is based.
“I think when they took the songs of ABBA and created this story about the mother and daughter, it’s just very unique,” Mansfield says.
Mansfield says even though she received permission to perform the show about a year ago, she had to remain tight lipped on the news.
“We couldn’t announce it because there were performances in Hamilton,” Mansfield says, explaining there are geographical restrictions that come along with obtaining a license.
“Musical Theatre International (the organization which provided the license) is very careful that we don’t encroach on other audiences,” she says.
The license contains other strict policies, stating any performances cannot resemble the Broadway show in areas such as choreography, sets and costumes, something Mansfield says generates both creative opportunities and challenges.
“With this [show], because we are cognizant of what the licensing says, it’s actually been mind-boggling to put together. It’s been fun to dig that deep creatively…but also exhausting,” she says.
“What you see on stage is my vision and how I think it would work,” Mansfield says.
Rehearsals began about four weeks ago, a tighter schedule than normal, but Mansfield says it was a nice change, and they’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time, adding “working with high skilled crew, cast and musicians” has helped the process run smoothly.
Mamma Mia! features a cast of 21, combining a mix of local performers and some from outside of the Durham Region.
“We’ve got people coming in from as far away as east of Kingston, northwest of Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto. We’ve pulled from all over the province,” Mansfield says.
However, Mansfield admits choosing her cast was not an easy task.
“We had people coming from all over the province – some very skilled actors. It was exciting,” she says. “It was a tough decision.”
Oshawa resident Laura Murphy plays the role of Sophie, the daughter searching for the identity of her father.
Mansfield says it was “by fluke” that a local performer grabbed one of the lead roles, but she is very pleased nonetheless.
“It wasn’t by design…[it] was truly her skill level,” Mansfield says.
Oshawa Councillor Rick Kerr also has a role in the cast, playing one of three men who could potentially be Sophie’s father.
After Mamma Mia! wraps up, Mansfield says they will then look forward towards productions of Evil Dead: The Musical and a Christmas Panto based on the story of Aladdin and The Wonderful Lamp.
“We have a lot on our plate,” she says.
With the news of the show well established over the past few months, Mansfield says she is expecting big crowds at the Regent Theatre.
“We’ve heard the rumblings are starting and people are now aware,” Mansfield says. “There is a buzz and people are starting to hum ‘Mamma Mia'”.
Tickets are $39 for regular seating, $49 for preferred seating and $59 for VIP premium seating, which includes entry to a post-show cast Q & A, meet and greet and photo opportunity onstage.
There are also special $25 tickets for students (available through in-person purchase only).
Tickets can be purchased at the Regent Theatre (50 King St. E. in Oshawa), online at regenttheatre.ca or by calling 905-721-3399 ext. 2.
For more information on Dancyn Productions, visit dancynproductions.com