Fans of the smash hit Mamma Mia! just can’t help themselves.
They often get up and dance in the aisles.
For many of those streaming into Prospera Centre on August 17 in Chilliwack, the blockbuster musical will be like the soundtrack of their youth.
“The tag-line for the show is Broadway’s non-stop party,” explained Devin Archer, 24, a member of the ensemble who sings and dances.
Energetic performers with big personalities were something they were looking for while casting for the touring production.
“I think Mamma Mia is quite different,” said Archer. “There’s a story, and it’s fun and kind of wild, but we are also responsible for sharing the music of ABBA and bringing it to life.”
Mamma Mia! the stage musical was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, with pop/dance tunes by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former band members. Hit songs range from “Dancing Queen,” and “SOS” to “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You.”
The story of Mamma Mia is about an independent, single mom who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island. Donna is about to let go of Sophie, her spirited daughter she’s raised on her own, with a big wedding. But little does she know, Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own.
On a quest to find the identity of her real dad, she brings back three suitors from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Over 24 hours, new love will bloom and old romances will be rekindled.
The tour has been going for almost two years, and Archer joined the cast out of Chicago in April.
“We get to do this high energy, fun show, that leaves our audiences with a smile. That’s something we take a whole lot of pleasure from,” he said.
The stats for the stage musical are so impressive as to render them almost unbelievable.
It’s been enjoyed by a staggering 50 million people around the world.
The current North American tour has played 4000 performances in 166 cities.
“It’s been a big week,” Archer admitted, when we reached him on his cell phone from the tour in Regina, Saskatchewan.
“People ask me where I was last week and I have to wrack my brain to come up with an answer.”
It’s all a bit of a blur.
“Next week when we’re heading into your city, we’ll have bused across Canada.”
They’re doing five cities in seven days, with a total of six shows, through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.
They hop on tour buses at the crack of dawn, drive to a new city, and get ready for a morning sound check.
“Then we get on stage later that night and give people our all. We give the show 100 per cent,” he said, adding that what most people might not realize is what’s involved “shlepping” across the continent with such a large-scale production.
The Northwestern University grad deigned to the suggestion he must be a “triple threat” with talent in acting, singing and dancing. He’s also an understudy for the role of Sky on the tour.
“I wouldn’t call myself that. But there are a lot of us here who do offer that,” he said humbly.
“What I think this production calls for is a performer who can provide a lot of energy and personality.
“It really requires that of the cast, and to constantly have new ideas on stage. So we encourage our fellow cast mates to have fun out there every night and hopefully that gets translates to the audience.”
It’s definitely working.
Fans in most cities find the last 10 minutes offering an irresistible “mega mix” of ABBA songs.
“That gets most of the audience up and dancing in the aisles,” Archer added.
And the performers enjoy that joyful reaction very much.
“We like to encourage the people watching to get up and have fun with us.”
For more details go to www.mammamianorthamerica.com.
Mamma Mia! August 17 at 8 p.m., Prospera Centre, 45323 Hodgins Avenue. Tickets $65/$75 (+sc) at the box office (45323 Hodgins Avenue), online www.kbrticketing.com or charge by phone 604-702-0062.