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Sandy Journal

Take a chance on Sandy Amphitheater’s August production of ‘Mamma Mia!’

Jul 01, 2019 04:26PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Take a chance on us! The cast of “Mamma Mia!” rehearses for their production at the Sandy Amphitheater in August. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

If you’re looking for an easy, breezy summer show, check out the Sandy Amphitheater’s production of “Mamma Mia!” which runs August 2-10.

“It’s ABBA music. You’re outside, in the summer, as the sun sets. It doesn’t get much better than that!” said Julie Blatter, who plays Rosie in “Mamma Mia!”  

Like all jukebox musicals, “Mamma Mia!” capitalizes on the popularity of a particular entertainer’s music, in this case ABBA. The poppy foursome from Sweden made it big in the 1970s with hits like “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me.”

Director Nolan Mitchell said, “These shows can feel like a bunch of great music strung together by a shallow plot. But this one is fun, this one has heart.” Mitchell is a veteran actor and director in Salt Lake’s theater community.

“I always ask myself, ‘What story are we trying to tell?’ With ‘Mamma Mia!’ it’s the relationship between Donna and her daughter Sophie. She’s been a single mother and raised this daughter. And all along she’s pined for Sam,” said Mitchell. 

“The other relationship at the heart of the story is Donna reconnecting with Sam, the love of her life,” said Mitchell. Mitchell has wanted to do “Mamma Mia!” since before the rights were available.

“Sandy productions have a good reputation. We get a great turnout for auditions because actors from around the valley know we set the bar high,” Mitchell said. Though the cast makes it look easy, these productions are a lot of work.

Sandy could experience ABBA overload. On June 29 Sandy Amphitheater is bringing back “Arrival: The Music of ABBA.” “‘Arrival’ packs the amphitheater. It’s a great show, and it goes hand-in-glove with our show,” said Mitchell. 

The story is set on a Greek island where Donna is helping her daughter Sophie prepare for her wedding. Guests include Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie, played by Corinne Adair and Blatter. Adair was in Sandy’s production of “Noises Off” earlier this year. 

“My character is definitely a cougar. She’s brash, loveable, doesn’t take anything seriously. I love all the music, but my favorite is ‘Take a Chance on Me.’ I don’t sing it during this show, so I get to just sit back and watch,” Adair said. 

Adair, who visited the ABBA museum on a recent trip to Stockholm, said people will come away from the show ABBA converts. “People are going to be pleasantly surprised by how polished our show is. And you can’t leave the show not in love with ABBA music,” Adair said. 

Morgan Hekking of Sandy plays Sophie, who is engaged to Sky. “This is a show that gets people up on their feet. I love that they leave feeling uplifted,” Hekking said. 

Hekking, who was in a Sandy production of “The Little Mermaid,” said Sandy shows are well organized. “We have rehearsal most nights, and the rehearsal schedule is color-coded and organized into nights of choreography or blocking,” Hekking said. 

Sophie’s fiancée Sky is played by Patrick Hawkins. This is Hawkins’s first Sandy show. 

“The best thing about my character is that I basically get to be a beach bum on stage. I really like the song ‘Does Your Mother Know.’ Performing outside is going to be great. The sun will go down as the show plays out, and it really sets the mood,” Hawkins said. 

Sam’s wingman is Pepper, played by Nate Leituala. “This is my second show with Sandy. I play the bartender on the island. He’s a fun character, light, comedic. My favorite songs to sing are ‘Super Trooper’ for the harmony and ‘Does Your Mother Know,’” Leituala said. 

Leituala loves the dancing and the costumes. “In my family, everyone plays sports. But that’s not my thing. I’m always posting on social media, ‘Come see my show!’”

For those expecting flashy 70s costumes, costumer Chad McBride said, “You won’t be disappointed. Most of the show feels contemporary because it’s set in 1999. But there’s a big number at the end, and that’s when we pull out the gold jumpsuits and the bellbottoms.”

Choreographer Jann Levitre created choreography that showcases the music and costumes. All the actors said they are excited to perform their favorite songs, especially in the amphitheater setting.  

“My favorite song is ‘Chiquitita’ for the amazing harmonies. And ‘Take a Chance’ is fun. It’s for Bill. He needs to get out there and get some lovin’!” Blatter said. 

But most of all, Blatter said she loved the theme of friendship in the show. “This is a story about true friendship, loyalty and love among women. Our show is organized and it’s high quality, but most of all it’s fun. We are going to rock that hill!”