Lucy Hoblyn has been crazy about Swedish pop stars Abba since she was a kid growing up in England. So when production rights to Mamma Mia!, the hit musical based on their songs, became available last year, the multi-talented director leapt at the chance to stage it with Knowlton Players. The results of their considerable efforts are on display March 28-31, and April 3-7, at Theatre Lac Brome.
“When I was eleven, Abba was top of the charts in Britain, and I adored them,” she said recently between rehearsals. I choreographed every one of their songs. When the musical came out, it was on my radar. I loved that there were so many parts for ladies of a certain age.”
Rights secured, Hoblyn and troupe tackled the challenge of singing and staging 22 songs for a cast of 39, reluctantly whittled down from 60 who turned up for auditions.
“It’s going amazingly well, knock on wood. We have a great bunch of teens; seven back-up singers who function as a kind of Greek chorus; a variety of choreographers; and leads Sheila McManus and Ellyn Wiebe, who are 100 percent perfect.”
Hoblyn is the first to admit the dialogue isn’t Shakespeare, but it isn’t about the dialogue. It’s about Abba and the strange but undeniable sense of happiness and well-being that radiates from their songs. That, and the setting of the sun-soaked Greek islands, seem tailor-made to relieve an endless Townships winter.
“We’re singing and dancing and putting it all together,” said McManus, who plays the role Meryl Streep owned in the 2008 blockbuster movie adaptation. “Learning five songs and dialogue has been a bit of a challenge for my old brain, but it’s going well. And it’s so much fun!”
Tickets for Mamma Mia! are on sale now at $17.50 each. Hurry, they won’t last long. Link to website: http://knowltonmammamia.brownpapertickets.com
Box office number: 1-800-838-3006 For more information: 450-522-2369.