After months of preparation, “Mamma Mia!” comes to life at SIUE’s Dunham Hall Theater during various showings in July.
Sophomore theater and dance major Kaley Smith, of Belleville, Illinois, took on the roll of floor manager for the production.
For staff like Smith, dress rehearsal was the first chance to see everything as a whole. It’s where lighting, choreography, music and acting finally met in a finished product. It was also a chance to learn what could be fixed.
“I set props, get people in places,” Smith said. “I get everyone and everything where it’s supposed to be.”
The easiest time for a director is when production draws near, according to director Kate Slovinski.
“I am the least busy person,” Slovinski said. “All [my work] is before this: making the decisions, communicating, and timing things and talking things over. By now, if it’s done right, is not very busy.”
“Mamma Mia!” is a play based on the discography of ABBA. Typically, the story heavily focuses on bride Sophie Sheridan, but Slovinski's version takes a different approach as it focuses more on Donna, Sheirdan's mother. Donna is played by Emily Truckenbrod, associate professor of music.
Casting Truckenbrod as Donna played into Slovinski's overall vision of the show. According to Slovinski, casting was the first big step in bringing her vision to life.
“It sounds kind of funny, but I think when I prepare a script, I know the story that I want to tell,” Slovinski said. “I know the characters that I wanna focus on in individual moments. I know a lot about them. So I go into casting, and they show up. It really just clicks, you know?”
Stage Manager Tyler Herron said he noticed how Slovinski's version differed from the three other versions he's seen. He said he appreciates how Slovinski portrays Donna's journey as important as well, instead of putting all the focus on Sophie's experiences.
“I think something that [the audience] will see that they won’t see in other productions is the humanity in Donna, the main character,” Herron said. “Even though the show is kind of about her daughter’s wedding, this is a show that is [just as dedicated] to women who are living in their middle age — or above middle age. And kind of their struggles but also their victories. It’s really nice to see Emily Truckenbrod really portray that.”
While Slovinski’s version of “Mamma Mia!” may highlight Donna more than a traditional showing, it does still follow the story of the entire Sheridan family. It’s the same story, but with a different angle.
The hustle and bustle of dress rehearsal may have passed, but the production moves on.
Showings will continue July 19-20 at 7:30 p.m. and July 21 at 2 p.m. For more information regarding “Mamma Mia!”, visit the SIUE Theater and Dance website.