Ziegfeld Theater gets its groove on with ‘Mamma Mia!’
Ziegfeld Theater Company: “Mamma Mia!” March 22-24 and 28-31 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays $29-$45 for Thursday tickets; $35-$55 for Friday through Sunday tickets 435-649-9371 parkcityshows.com
Morgan Parry loves “Mamma Mia!” because it’s about strong women.
“It portrays the relationships of three women and shows what they’ve gone through together, and how they were able to support each other,” said Parry, who directs the Ziegfeld Theater Company’s production of the Tony-nominated musical.
Her interpretation of the classic opens a a two-weekend run on March 22 at the Egyptian Theatre. “They’ve all had difficult experiences throughout their lives and have overcome them. And I love that aspect that comes through the musical.”
The story centers around former pop singer Donna, whose daughter, Sophie, is about to get married. Sophie wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but she and Donna don’t know who the father is.
Heidi Potter Hunt, who is also the production’s musical director, plays Donna, while Lindsay Gladwell Kapetanov and Holly Hartman Pivonka portray Donna’s friends Tanya and Rosie, respectively.
Parry knew the three actors would make the roles believable.
“Heidi is a friend of mine and didn’t want to audition for a role, but I made her, because she’s like a living Donna,” Parry laughed. “She is vocally perfect for the role, because like Donna, she’s an incredible actress, dancer and mother. So she had everything I wanted to pull out of the character.”
Hunt also works will with Kevin Ireland, who plays Donna’s former lover, Sam.
“They have known each other for a long time and have performed together as well,” Parry said. “They have a great chemistry together, and Kevin has his own swagger that is needed for the role.”
Parry chose Kapetanov to play Tanya because she walks and talks the role.
“Lindsay is gorgeous,” Parry said. “She’s also funny and dresses to the nines. In fact, she actually used many of her own clothes for costumes.”
“Mamma Mia!” marks the first time Parry has worked with Hartman.
“She did some stuff with the Groundlings sketch comedy theater in Los Angeles when she was younger, and then took a break from theater to do the mom thing,” Parry said. “I think this is her first time back to acting.”
Parry was attracted to Hartman’s comedic timing.
“She’s hilarious, and she’s one of those actresses who knows how to do physical comedy,” Parry said. “She’s also willing to roll around on the floor or fall off a platform as long as it’s funny.”
Of course many audience members are familiar with “Mamma Mia!” because of its soundtrack, which is composed of Abba songs that were written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.
“I grew up listening to the songs a little bit, but my mom, who came to see the production when we opened it in Ogden, told me she didn’t know if she should be embarrassed or proud that she knew every single word to every single song,” Parry said.
The director respects Andersson and Ulvaeus, who also wrote the Tony-winning musical “Chess,” because of their knack for songwriting.
“They are great musicians who were able to find ways to insert their hits within the confines of the ‘Mamma Mia!’ story,” she said.
Parry, however, also enjoyed learning about the songs outside of what they meant within the musical.
“Usually when I get ready to block scenes that deal with songs I would listen to the original recordings and watch any official videos or live performances,” Parry said.
One of the songs, ‘The Winner Takes It All,” was originally the chart-topping single leading Abba’s 1980 album “Super Trouper.”
The song is used in during a second-act scene where Donna tells Sam how he broke her heart when they were younger.
Parry found that the Ulvaeus wrote the song in a drunken moment after he and his wife, Agnetha Fältskog, one of Abba’s lead singers, divorced.
“They both have said the song isn’t about their marriage, but I still think it was awesome that they were able to still work together in that capacity,” Parry said. “The words in the song are awesome, and the scene it’s used in ‘Mamma Mia!’ is so powerful.”
Adding dimension to the music in the production is choreography by Bryan Andrews, and costumes that were designed and built by Alicia Kondrick.
“The best thing about the choreography is how Bryan made sure it moved the story along, because he really honed in on the dancers’ individual skills throughout the show,” Parry said. “As for the costumes, I had a great time directing something that takes place in the late 1990s, because that’s when I was in high school. I mean, it was great to see what I wore back then being featured on stage.”
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