A Spotlight on the Maui Premiere of “Mamma Mia!”
Songs stick with you. They spark memories. They carry your stories with them. And when we’re talking about catchy tunes like “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me,” they can even inspire acclaimed musicals that last 20+ years!!
Maui OnStage presents the Maui premiere of “Mamma Mia!” The original production took to the stage in London back in 1999. It was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by former band members Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus.
“It has nothing to do with the band personally,” explains actress Lina Aiko Krueger, who plays Donna Sheridan in the Maui OnStage production. “It’s a story about a single mother and her daughter who wants to get married, and it just happens to be put to songs that you already know!”
Set in a Greek island paradise, a youthful Sophie (Julia Schwentor) awakes from a nightmare – her three possible fathers are fighting to walk her down the aisle at her upcoming wedding. Her mother, a former disco queen, Donna (Lina Krueger) assumes that the wedding is off and offers to handle all the details. Offended, Sophie vows that her children won’t grow up not knowing who their father is. Her fiancé Sky (Stephen Webb) is concerned that inviting Sam (Scott Smith), Harry (Marc Tolliver) and Bill (Dean Watt) to the wedding is only a scheme to find out who her father is.
“I start out with the song ‘Honey Honey,’ and it’s basically me describing my mom’s diary to my friends,” says Julia Schwentor as Sophie Sheridan, who discovers three potential fathers through her mother’s diary. “All the things my mom has written are almost inter-coursing with the song itself.”
Told through the legendary pop hits of ABBA, like “Dancing Queen,” “SOS,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and its title track, “Mamma Mia!” has become a worldwide sensation that has audiences everywhere dancing. Get a behind-the-scenes look during a Maui OnStage rehearsal in our video above.
“You’re laughing hysterically one minute, and the next minute you’re like ‘Oh, that’s really sad,” but it’s more moments of bittersweetness than sadness, ” adds Schwentor. “The music throughout the entire show is taking you along this journey.”
About 60 people auditioned for roles in the Maui OnStage production, directed and choreographed by Kalani Whitford, who’s been involved in the local performance community since childhood. He reflects on a favorite moment of his in Act 2 with Krueger (as Donna).
“She has a wonderful scene where she sings a few songs – ‘Slipping Through My Fingers,’ ‘Winner Takes It All’ – and she’s just an amazing actress,” Whitford says. “She takes those songs and just turns them into Shakespeare; it’s such a beautiful thing, you forget they are pop songs written 20 years ago!!”
The Maui OnStage production of “Mamma Mia!” is under the musical direction of Kim Vetterli, and runs Friday, July 12 to Sunday, August 4. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, July 12 through August 4 at the Historic ‘Īao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40; you can call 242-6969 or order online here.