An upcoming theatrical production of Mamma Mia! is set to bring a level of performance Busselton has never seen before, with a huge new stage ready to wow audiences.
A nearly 40-member cast and crew have been preparing since March to bring Mamma Mia! at the High Street Hall, with final rehearsals underway for shows from 12 May.
Many people already know the emotional and energetic songs of Mamma Mia! the 2008 film, but many don’t know that the musical theater production came first.
Lead actress Breanna Redhead, 21, said this meant the musical theater script closely resembled the film, bringing 24 ABBA songs to life in the span of two hours.
“I watched it a lot, to see how they do certain scenes and how the actors express themselves,” she said.
Breanna has been involved in theater for a long time, and new to the area, she immediately began looking for her “performing arts fix” when she moved to Busselton in late 2021.
It wasn’t long before the auditions for Busselton’s Mamma Mia! were announced and word spread online that “Breanna Redhead” should apply.
“About 10 of my friends had all tagged on me, ‘look at this,'” she said.
Breanna auditioned and said she was thrilled to land the lead role of Sophie, a young woman who invites three of her possible fathers to her wedding on a Greek island in a bid to find out who her real father is.
A far cry from her early roles in high school and amateur theater group productions, Breanna said playing the role of Sophie was a highlight of her budding acting career.
“It’s the biggest role I’ve ever had on a show,” she said.
“I’ve played a few side characters in my day, but it’s super exciting and really nerve-wracking. With that, I’m pretty much in every song.”
Breanna said singing came naturally to her, but the show required a new level of focus to hit the notes while following the choreography.
With big dance numbers like Want You, Money Money Money and Under Attack requiring high levels of movement while singing, she said preparing to be Sophie had been a steep learning curve.
“I quickly realized how much I sing and how much it weighs on my voice,” she said.
“It’s about finding that balance between being able to focus on my singing but not taking it away from my acting and the emotion of the singing.
“It’s been a lot of learning, which is great for me, that’s why I’m doing it.”
The cast and crew aim to get the audience on their feet by the end of the show, singing and dancing to the ABBA songs everyone knows.
Director Stephen Lee said when rehearsals began nearly three months ago there was uncertainty that COVID restrictions would allow it to continue.
He said the final week of prep will be the final hurdle, with some cast members due to come out of solitary just days before the curtains open.
“We’ve had to do more work than ever before to prepare people to cover other people. It’s a different world right now and we’re dealing with it.
“We are doing well for the opener. We knew this would happen.”
Stephen has worked in theater for over 45 years and has spent the last 15 years working in Busselton with Artistic Director Russel Chandler.
He said Mamma Mia! was one of the biggest productions they had worked on.
“It’s the first time we’ve really taken over a space, and we’re setting up a stage that’s bigger on its own than many theaters I’ve worked in,” he said.
“A lot of effort has gone into making this as big and spectacular as possible.
“It was an attempt to really raise the bar because there are things happening in Busselton with the new center for the arts of theater. Busselton could really raise now in another area of theater. This is our attempt to start to elevate our game to a new higher level.”
Presented by the theater company Busselton Bare Naked Events, Mamma Mia! the shows will take place at the High Street Hall in Busselton, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May 12th to 22nd.
You can get tickets at barenakedevents.com.au/mamma-mia/