By Jessica Jones
For the Independent
They are “in the mood for dance,” as the song Dancing Queen in Mamma Mia! goes.
And you will be too, as 48 junior and senior high school students from William E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus’ Wildcat Theatre take the stage to perform the international, smash-hit musical Mamma Mia!
“It’s going to be fantastic,” said director and drama teacher Darren Fleischhacker.
The school started auditioning students in September, with rehearsals beginning in October.
Since then, the large group of students has been learning choreography, signing, dancing, and acting to bring the community six, high-energy, toe-tapping Mamma Mia! shows on two weekends: Feb. 27th-29th, and March 5th-7th.
All shows are at 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Centre.
While the lively and colourful Mamma Mia! production is the largest Fleischhacker has ever directed, it’s also the first time junior high students have joined in on a high school performance.
“We wanted to give the opportunity to have them audition and interview, and give everyone a chance to get interested and involved, and to start the younger ones off early,” explained Fleischhacker.
“People can expect a fantastic time, the story is just so excellent and we have a strong cast who are making me very proud,” added Fleischhacker of the upcoming shows.
He says that about 90 per cent of the production has been put together by the students from Grade 7-12, with only a few adults assisting in the band.
Even the in-depth choreography has been orchestrated by Grade 12 student and dance captain Taylor Fornwald.
With only three weeks left until the curtain drops, the students are putting in many hours concentrating on full runs of individual acts, many rehearsing twice a week, if not more.
Fleischhacker says there are some students juggling rehearsals between part-time jobs, as well as school work. He says that, “Sometimes life can get in the way” but he has been posting videos so the performers can make sense of the “extensive” choreography, which still needs practice.
He says, however, that the students are highly motivated, including his two leads, Grade 9 student Bianca Brugman who plays Donna and Grade 11 student Madison Bradford who plays Sophie.
“They are doing a really good job and I am really lucky to have them,” Fleischhacker said.
While six shows seems like a lot for a school production, Fleischhacker says that they needed this amount in order to break even after paying the royalties for the Mamma Mia! music, which is based around the 70s chart-topping songs performed by the group ABBA.
He says it costs around $725 per performance to play the songs, and with a two-month policy that prohibits the use of the material dictated by musical theatre in Canada, they hadn’t even received the rental song material until just after Christmas.
Since then the Wildcat Theatre troupe has been on a fast-track to nail their choreography.
Fleischhacker also notes that a parent committee has been instrumental in raising nearly $25,000 for a wireless light and sound upgrade that includes LED light fixtures.
For more information, or to see some rehearsal clips, visit Wildcat Theatre’s Facebook Page. Tickets, for assigned seating, are $25 and can be purchased at Wells Furniture.