Talented high-schoolers deliver Mamma Mia! musical performances

Southwest High School’s version of the legendary musical has crowds on their feet during opening weekend

By Freddy Moyano

Audiences were transported to the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi in Southwest high school’s production of Mamma Mia!

Southwest High School hosted Mamma Mia! the musical this weekend (Feb. 11 – 13) featuring student musicians, actors and crew members. The results of the rehearsal process paid off with standing ovations and a big majority of the attending audience dancing and clapping to the rhythm of legendary ABBA songs such as “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” “SOS” and the 1975 chart-topper, “Mamma Mia.”

Originally conceived by Judy Craymer, the musical was based on the songs of ABBA, composed by band members, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. In 2017, the musical became the ninth longest-running show and longest-running jukebox musical in Broadway history.

Distancing itself from the Italian cliché its title might suggest, the simplicity and charm of a Greek island is at the core of the show’s plot. Southwest set designer and tech crew recreated this well with tasteful pale white and blue tones adorned with attractive light work. The costume department wisely added gold tones toward the end of the performance, as an ideal brooch to a great night.

“Mamma Mia!” the story, is highly weighted on comic timing, which junior Amelia Gibbons (playing Rosie) and senior Tayah Keyser were able to accomplish. Gibbons had a commanding presence as supporting actress that kept the audience laughing and engaged. Keyser’s acting versatility and voice received great praise from the audience, especially after her Act Two solos.

Lead actress, junior Adrienne Moder (playing Sophie) had a consistent memorable voice performance coupled with a commanding stage presence and good chemistry with her fellow actors, namely sophomore performer, Sawyer Duquaine. The duo brought back memories of “The Sound of Music,” when they sang “Thank You For The Music.” Duquaine’s British accent and charm brought a refreshing touch to the plot.

There were quite a few ensemble moments to treasure as well. The choreography of talented Southwest students showed sublime traces in “Money, Money, Money” and “Dancing Queen.”

Perhaps one of the most brilliant appearances of the ensemble group was characterized by senior Jackson Oberneder, who delivered jaw-dropping choreography moves while in a wheelchair.

The pit orchestra had a key role in the success of the show. Among the highlights throughout ABBA’s repertoire of gems, the whole group excelled, with particularly brilliant drum set, violin, trumpet, guitar and keyboard strokes.

The show continues February 18 and 19.

Part of the proceeds from ticket sales are donated to local charities.

Freddy Moyano is a film critic as well as an award-winning filmmaker and actor. He was raised in Madrid, Spain and moved to Wisconsin in 2002. He has called Green Bay home ever since.

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