TYT to present Mamma Mia! at the TCA

By: 
MARY KAY McPARTLIN

Singing “Dancing Queen” by ABBA are (l-r) Rio Doyle, Morgan Davis and Hannah Rowe. Photo by Jim Lincoln.

Theater favorite “Mamma Mia!” comes to the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) on March 20-22 as the last Tecumseh Youth Theater (TYT) performance of the season. Local high school students have been rehearsing for this challenging production since December.

“There is so much singing and dancing,” said Director Kim Van Camp. “The cast has been doing such a fantastic job learning all the dances and all the songs.”

The TYT students had the opportunity this year to select what to perform and chose “Mamma Mia!” set on a beautiful Greek island with the music of the pop group ABBA helping tell the story of a young woman searching for the identity of her father just before she gets married.

Music and humor drive the musical and required the cast to learn more songs and dances than for any other TYT production. “It’s one hundred participation across the board for the whole show,” Van Camp said. “It’s not a huge cast, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to them. They are all phenomenal singers.”

Normally the final week before a show the cast and crew are finishing up learning material. Not so for the “Mamma Mia!” group. “They caught on really fast so we have been able to dive deep on the nitty gritty, where other times they would still be learning a few things,” said Van Camp. “It’s a big show to undertake. The tech crew is going to be in costume to make the quick changes.”

Van Camp, in her TYT directorial debut, worked closely with the students to help them understand and develop their characterizations. The fast-moving musical is running very smoothly, and Van Camp credits that to the experience and dedication of the cast and crew.

“The kids have done so much work making this show their own,” she said. “I have let them work on blocking for their characters. They really have taken ownership of this show and have done a fantastic job. If they get stuck, I’m there to direct them.”

Rather than telling the actors what to do when something isn’t working, Van Camp encourages them to think about what changes would make the production better. Much time was spent helping the ensemble cast to understand their characters, making the actors better able to inhabit the characters and not just read lines.

“They have made it feel natural to them,” said Van Camp. “Even the ensembles, they all have a character and a purpose to be onstage. We don’t want them to wander onstage with no purpose.”

A good example, according to Van Camp, is the wedding scene, where the joyous feeling comes from a group of people who are celebrating, not pretending to celebrate. “They are into it because this is their family and this is what is happening in their lives now,” she said.

All the hard work has the cast and crew for “Mamma Mia!” excited to get on stage. “They are so ecstatic and ready for an audience,” said Van Camp. “If I wasn’t directing this show, I would pay one hundred dollars to come to this show. I love ABBA. All of the kids in Tecumseh are so talented in so many ways. We are very rich in our community for talent.”

“I love watching all the pieces of the show come together,” said Heather Rowe, producer for the show. “The best part is when the kids finally start to see their hard work pay off and everything falls into place.”

Also helping with the production are Music Director Anna Bolton, Choreographer Jennifer Williams and Pit Conductor Joe McInchak. The main cast includes Morgan Davis, Anna McCarley, Hannah Rowe, Rio Doyle, Faith Rhodes, Georgia Keefer, Aiden Hernandez, Kyle Mackey, Alex Lane, Kyle Haeussler, Chandler Elizardo, Xander Olney and Matias Alvarez.

Van Camp has been active with TYT in different areas and believes the organization is a valuable one for Tecumseh. “My children have all been in TYT,” she said “We are a big theater family. It’s exciting. I love the program. I love what they do with the kids.”

“Mamma Mia!” runs at 7:30 p.m. on March 20 and 21 and at 3 p.m. on March 22. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the TCA box office, by calling 423.6617 or online at thetca.org.

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Tecumseh Herald

 

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