A whirlwind summer is kicking off for the cast and crew of the summer musical produced by the Pine City Heritage Players Community Theater. After a somewhat uncertain start to the schedule, video auditions were completed during the first week of June as the group announced their selection of Mamma Mia! as this year’s show.
According to Artistic Director, Rachel Bigelow, the board members wanted to bring back theater in Pine City with a bang! “We felt this musical would provide an engaging, creative opportunity for our cast and crew as well as a fun summer production for our audience.”
The story takes place on a mythical Greek island in the present day and centers around a young girl named Sophie (portrayed by Allie Gosen) who dreams of a white wedding, with her father giving her away at the altar. The problem — she doesn’t know who that is — and she won’t ask her mother, Donna (portrayed by Laura Michels) that question. As the show begins Sophie explains to her friends that after reading Donna’s diary, she thinks her dad could be one of 3 possible dads… and she invited all three to the wedding!
With a cast of 29 people, there are both veterans of the PCHP stage and new faces for this year’s production. Mary Ellen Sauser and Jennifer Hansmann round out the remaining members of the “Donna & the Dynamos” trio with Michels. This strong group of ladies have graced the stage together in past Heritage Players productions including Nunsense and Into the Woods. Sophie’s friends include cast members: Emily Schueller, Angel Kidd & Kodie Maki – three young ladies that last appeared together on the stage for Bye Bye Birdie. Newcomer, Deb Bradford joins Scott Tolzmann and Jay Schueller as the “could be dads” trio. Rounding out the remaining characters on the stage is the young men group featuring Zach Ausmus playing the role of Sophie’s fiance, Skye, plus his trio of friends played by Lukas Struss, Ben Michels & Gavin Schueller.
The cast is completed with the hard-working members of the ensemble: Keith Bredeson, Beckajo Bredeson, Renee Kidd, Katie Simon, Meagan Guptill, Ali Hanson, Briana Eng, Michaela Engh, Leah Salstrand, Allyson Chromey, Kassedy Olson, Vivian Cavallin, Brooke Reiser, Josh Newman, and Jon Cukla. “This ensemble plays a huge role in the success of this production as they will have to master a lot of choreography and vocals in a short time,” says Bigelow, “But after a difficult year with no theater, they’ve all risen to this challenge with energy and commitment that will bring us across the finish line.”
“We’ve been in rehearsal now for just two weeks and it has been fun watching the cast members connect with each other and develop their characters,” says Nick Basta, Stage Manager for the production. “We are all just happy to be back on the stage doing what we love.”
While the cast and main production team are all in place for the show, there are many other ways for people to get involved in the backstage experience. Cassandra Olson is part of the production team as the Volunteer Coordinator and is enjoying the excitement and energy of being back in the theater. According to Olson, the last three weeks before a show opens are always a busy time to prepare for the show opening. “Putting a show together requires all types of skills – carpentry, painting, sewing, childcare, or greeting guests as an usher to name just a few. Experience isn’t required, just a willingness to learn and have fun!”
The musical will perform on Thursday & Friday evenings this July: July 15, 16, 22 & 23 at 7:00 PM in the Pine City High School Auditorium. All tickets must be purchased online through the Heritage Players website (www.pinecityheritageplayers.com) or in-person at the Pine City Chamber Office, 315 Main Street South during regular business hours. Seating will be limited to just 250 guests per performance, so advance purchase is encouraged for this production. Tickets will go on sale July 1st. Adults are $15, Seniors are $12 and Students are $10.
The Pine City Heritage Players’ mission is to enrich, educate, and entertain our community by providing a superior theater experience.