‘Mamma Mia!’ makes its way to Grosse Pointe

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 17, 2019

 Annie Kordas and Marie Boyle Reinman play Sophie and her single mother, Donna, in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s production of the musical “Mamma Mia!”

Annie Kordas and Marie Boyle Reinman play Sophie and her single mother, Donna, in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s production of the musical “Mamma Mia!”

Photo by John F. Martin, provided by Grosse Pointe Theatre

GROSSE POINTE PARK — Family isn’t just the subject of the musical “Mamma Mia!” — it’s true for Grosse Pointe Theatre’s cast and crew as well.

Based on the music of the Swedish band ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” is about a young woman, Sophie, who hopes to discover the identity of her birth father by secretly inviting three of her mother’s former suitors to Sophie’s wedding on a beautiful Greek island. Hilarity and heartwarming moments ensue.

GPT is opening its 72nd season with “Mamma Mia!” Sept. 20-29 at the Pierce Middle School auditorium in Grosse Pointe Park. It’s the first time that GPT has opened a show on a Friday evening, not with a Sunday matinee.

The show is being co-directed and co-choreographed by Alison Roberts and Rachel Settlage, both of Grosse Pointe Park. This is Roberts’ directorial debut. Her husband, David Roberts, is the vocal coach, and the cast includes a brother and sister and three real-life couples in leading roles — Tim Reinman and Marie Boyle Reinman, of Grosse Pointe Farms, as former suitor Sam and Sophie’s mother, Donna, respectively; Pam and Robert Montgomery, of the Farms, as Donna’s friend, Tanya, and Donna’s former suitor, Bill; and Tim Higgins and Scott Davis, of Royal Oak, who play Donna’s suitor, Harry, and the character of Nigel, respectively.

“We actually have a lot of relationships in this show,” Alison Roberts said.

It’s not just families and couples in the cast and crew. Plenty of folks are friends outside of GPT as well, including Settlage and Roberts.

“This show is so full of great female relationships,” Roberts said. “It kind of mirrored and deepened our relationship.”

Reinman said he, his wife and the Montgomerys all said that when the rights to “Mamma Mia!” became available to community theater groups, “We have to do this (show).”

“And they all got cast!” marveled Roberts, noting that she didn’t know during auditions about their joint desire to do this production.

Jay Callahan, of Clinton Township, plays Sky, Sophie’s fiancé. It’s his first non-comedic role, and he said he was nervous about the challenge, but the cast and crew say he’s risen to the occasion. And, he’ll have at least one avid fan rooting for him in the audience.

“My mom went (to see ‘Mamma Mia!’) three times when it went to the Fisher (Theatre),” Callahan said. “So, she’s stoked.”

Roberts said the actors “just know how to bring out the vulnerabilities of the characters.” She said this is a great show about the connection between mothers and daughters, and she hopes moms and daughters will come together to see it.

While there are plenty of light-hearted moments, “It will make you cry,” said Boyle Reinman.

“We were careful to draw out the emotional relationships,” Roberts said.

Although, as Roberts noted, the show only exists because of the music of ABBA, audiences should expect more than an ABBA concert.

“You’re going to want to see it even if you don’t like ABBA,” said Dane Carten, of Detroit, the orchestra and vocal director. “There’s so much intricacy and depth and harmonies.”

Some “technically complex” dance numbers should dazzle audiences, Roberts said.

“The choreography is very fun,” said Annie Kordas, of Grosse Pointe Farms, who plays the spunky Sophie. “It’s pretty high energy.”

The cast also includes Ellen Purrenhage Taber, of St. Clair Shores; Virginia Lee, of Grosse Pointe City; Cassandra Wanna, of Detroit; Panayiotis Varlamos, of Grosse Pointe Woods; Carl Ghafari, of Grosse Pointe Shores; Erica Clarke, of Clarkston; Nicholas Hysick, of Grosse Pointe Woods; Catherine Pearson, of Troy; Jordan Prisby, of Clinton Township; Kimmie Suchyta, of Detroit; Joanna Delpaz, of Macomb Township; Alex Hysick, of Grosse Pointe Woods; Kathleen Keyes, of Shelby Township; Danielle Vogler, of Grosse Pointe Park; Rob Weber, of Grosse Pointe City; Chelsea Pulice, of Ferndale; and Valerie Bandy, of Grosse Pointe Park.

Settlage said different special guests will play the priest at the wedding, including Grosse Pointe City Mayor Christopher Boettcher, Grosse Pointe Woods City Councilman George McMullen, professional actor and radio personality Marty Bufalini and former Grosse Pointe War Memorial President Mark Weber. Audiences are encouraged to participate in a dance party at the end.

Boyle Reinman sums it up this way — “great story, great music, great dancing.”

Pierce Middle School is located at 15430 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park. For tickets or more information, call GPT at (313) 881-4004 or visit www.gpt.org.