‘Having the time of your life,’ PHS stages spring musical

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Students in the Perry High School Music and Drama departments more than recaptured their lost year of 2020 with a superb staging Friday and Saturday of the musical, “Mamma Mia!”

Originally planned for a spring 2020 production but finding instead a one-year, virus-imposed postponement, the drama was performed Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night in the Perry Performing Arts Center.

“Mamma Mia!” a 1999 musical written by Catherine Johnson, was based on songs by the Swedish pop group ABBA from the 1970s. The plot followed a young bride-to-be who invites three men to her upcoming wedding, each of whom might be her father and one of whom broke her mother’s heart.

Since a simple DNA test would have solved the paternity mystery at once, a willing suspension of unbelief was required and willingly made for the sake of the plot’s premise. The PHS staging of the drama was highly amusing and touchingly emotional by turns, with the intensity of the mother-daughter relationship relieved by the comicality of the friends of each.

The standards of sexual morality made a prominent theme in the play, with the fate of the mother, Donna, played by senior Ainsley Marburger, counterposed to those of her friends, the thrice-divorced Tanya, played by junior Molly Moorhead, and the fiercely feminist Rosie, played by junior Bryce Eastman.

Prior to the surprises of the marriage-ceremony scene, an emotional high point was reached with the scene of conflict and resolution between Donna and her long-lost lover Sam, played by junior Sebastian Hernandez. Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All” provided the  musical text for the scene, suggesting that the traditional sexual double standard, which imposes the bulk of guilt and shame upon females and bears them down like the weight of a pregnancy, was the true villain of the piece. But, as Donna sings,

The judges will decide.
The likes of me abide,
Spectators of the show,
Always staying low.

A crucial point in a Greek tragedy was the anagnorisis, that is, the moment of recognition or realization, when the scales fall from a character’s eyes, illusions are swept away and the character sees another or herself in a true light for the first time. Both Donna and her daughter, Sophie, played by senior Bella Nath, endured this “change from ignorance to knowledge” in their relations with one another and in their relations with their male partners.

The cast was composed of about 35 Perry High School student actors, with another 20 students serving as crew members. The players and stagehands included:

Cast:
Ainsley Marburger – Donna
Bella Nath – Sophie
Molly Moorhead – Tanya
Bryce Eastman – Rosie
Sebastian Hernandez – Sam
Jefry Gonzalez – Bill
Jayson Chavez – Harry
Maddy Hollingsworth – Sky
Kyla Mckenzie – Lisa
Candace Hoisington – Ali
Evan Knowles – Eddie
Jesus Gonzalez – Pepper
Jose Chavez – Father Alexandrios

Ensemble:
Alexa Nelson, Cloe Nance, Sarai Jaimes, Yajaira Hernandez, Emma Stika, Aubree Tasler and Orlando Gonzalez

Middle School Company:
Olivia Christensen, Ayden Erickson, Ethan Jackson, Ben Tolle, Brooke Nelson, Ximena Calderon, Levi Thorsen and Ally Mills

Student Production Crew:
Emily Dowd, Zoe Hibbert, Eliza Cunningham, Ava Augustus, Candace Hosington, Kaylee Hay, Kyla McKenzie, Demetrius Ferretti, Owen Kalina, Shae Fiddler, Khamya Hall and Lucais Davis

The PHS Vocal Music Department is directed by Mrs. Jenn Nelson, and the PHS Drama Department is led by Mr. Randy Peterson. The choreography was arranged by Ms. Nicole Friess-Schilling.

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