Mamma Mia! What a show!

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

In this scene from Mamma Mia! Sophie (Catherine Picard) welcomes the three men, one of whom might be her father, Bill (Christopher Poulin), Harry (Mathieu Cattiaux) and Sam (Shawn Blackburn).

St. Patrick’s High School seniors put on an adaptation of British playwright Catherine Johnson’s musical hit Mamma Mia! which is based on the music of the Swedish pop group ABBA. On May 30, the Jean-Paul Tardif hall at the Collège Charles-Garnier was filled with friends and family who had come to see the classic musical set on a fictitious Greek island. 

Mamma Mia! tells the story of young bride-to-be Sophie, who has invited three men from her mother’s past to her wedding. She hopes to reveal one of them as her father and have him walk her down the aisle. Tensions rise as her mother Donna must keep her secret, control revived feelings towards each of the men and maintain peace on the island, all while preparing for the wedding. 

 Members of the Senior Drama Profile program at St. Patrick’s High School adapted and shortened the original 2½-hour musical by half. “We even created the dress-shopping and cake-tasting scenes and students wrote the script,” said drama teacher and director Elisabeth Pelletier. “We take pride in our professional and supportive teachers to have accomplished such a task. 

“It was a fantastic result after five months of hard work. I was surprised by the high quality of talent and by the students’ devotion,” continued Pelletier. “We should continue to develop the artistic aspect because it helps students to have more self-confidence and to discover different talents and skills.” 

Students built the set with the help of designer Geneviève Bournival and Woodworking Profile teacher Andreas Scheid. “I was inspired by my favourite images of the Greek islands,” said Bournival. “We placed major set pieces, like Donna’s goat shed [where the men slept], on wheels to make them adaptable to different scenes. I am happy with the result.”

 “This was my first musical. It was a lot of fun, and a tad stressful – a good stress,” said senior Catherine Picard. “I auditioned for Sophie because she is a fun, young and carefree character who just wants to discover who she truly is.” Sophie believes that identifying her father will help her come to terms with herself. And what better time than her wedding to invite her three possible fathers? This surprises and bewilders her mother Donna, who is not sure herself which of them is Sophie’s father.

“Mamma Mia! is one of my favourite movies” said Layia Perreault. “I auditioned for Donna because my best friend played Sophie. It came naturally to play her mother since I tend to do it already.” She continued, “I like Donna’s boy drama and how independent she is that she doesn’t really need a man. I really like how the show ends. We had a lot of energy. It was an enjoyable experience.”

 Audience members said, “It is always fun to see theatre productions, especially one with such a low budget because we have to rely on the performance to bring the play to life. And the students succeeded. The set and the students transported us to Greece and into Sophie’s story.”

 Mamma Mia! the musical premiered in 1999 in London, England. Over the course of 17 years, it has been performed in over 40 cities, including a 14-year run on Broadway. Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Amanda Seyfried starred in the movie of the same name in 2008.