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Springfield Little Theatre Opens 83rd Season with "Mamma Mia!"

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Little Theatre)
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Springfield Little Theatre opens its 83rd season with the musical "Mamma Mia!" at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut, Friday, September 15 through Sunday, October 8. Broadway star and Springfield native Kim Crosby stars as the mother, Donna. Performances start at 7:30pm on Thursdays-Saturdays and at 2pm on Sundays. Based on the hit songs by ABBA and the story by Catherine Johnson, "Mamma Mia!" tells the hilarious tale of 20-year-old Sophie, played by Sisilia Shaffer, living with her mother Donna on a sunny Greek island where Donna runs a small hotel. 

Directing and choreographing the production is Josh Inman. “We’re really excited to have a local production of this (show) come to the community, and we’re so fortunate to have this be the opening production of SGF Little Theatre’s 83rd season. We have a great cast—we’re led by Kim Crosby as Donna, and Sisilia Shaffer does a lovely job as Donna’s daughter Sophie.”

Shaffer describes her take on the plot. “Sophie is getting married to her boyfriend Skye. And she has always felt that she’s missing a piece of her life.  She wants to find out who her father is.  So she reads her mom’s diary, finds out three men who could possibly be ‘that man,’ and has the guts enough to invite them... under the guise of her mother!  And so they come, and the story unfolds.” Adds Josh Inman, “they each had an ‘encounter’ with Donna, and that’s where Sophie comes in.”  As for the Greek island setting, Inman says “we have a really beautiful scenic design by Chuck Rogers, and wonderful lighting by Jamie Bower.  The Landers Theatre is such a beautiful building, and an intimate space with about 500 seats, so you’re right there in the action—you feel like you’re right there on the island with them.”  Musical direction is by Susan Gravatt, and the show features the big ABBA hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Thank You for the Music,” and of course “Mamma Mia.” 

Sisilia Shaffer studied up for the role of Sophie by listening to all the ABBA songs, of course, but also “just looking at pictures of the islands of Greece and feeling the inspiration of the beauty of it.  I know my friends and I enjoy Greek-themed movies!  But really, I just tried to get into the mindset of what it would be like to live on that type of island, and enjoy island life—but while working hard with your mother at the hotel.”

Inman and Shaffer agree that cast and musicians alike have had “a blast” working on the show-“it’s a party.  It’s a guaranteed party. You’re going to be dancing at the end, for sure!”

"Mamma Mia!" is rated PG-13. Tickets range in price from $16-$36; group pricing is available for parties of 10 or more. Visit www.springfieldlittletheatre.org to purchase tickets, or call the Landers box office at 869-1334.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning "Arts News." Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Ozzie Award" in 2006.