Badanai Theatre Presents Smash Hit Musical
By Amy Sellors

Imagine a white beach, a blue sky, and the sun on your face. Now add laughter, love, and the music of ABBA. This February, Badanai Theatre’s production of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ Mamma Mia! will transport you to a Greek paradise.

ABBA fans already know why this show is a hit. As soon as the amateur rights became available, Badanai Theatre jumped at the chance to produce this show with local talent. If you’re not yet an ABBA fan, the story will take you on a wonderful rollercoaster of emotions.

“In producing Mamma Mia!, you have a lot to live up to. The reputation of the movie, the show on Broadway, and many people saw it in Toronto,” says Lawrence Badanai. “You can’t just re-create the movie. Many people have already connected to the show and decided how it should be, and this is our re-telling and interpretation of the characters. We want to make it new and keep it familiar.”

Sitting in the director’s chair are Spencer Hari and Candi and Lawrence Badanai.  This team draws on their individual strengths to put fantastic community theatre on stage. Mamma Mia! touches on many themes—mothers and daughters, love, new beginnings, different family structures, do-overs, and dreams—all woven together with humour and ABBA’s greatest hits.

For Mamma Mia! virgins, here is the basic plot: Donna is preparing for her daughter Sophie’s wedding at Donna’s small hotel in the Greek islands. Donna’s two best friends are on hand to help and add to the fun. Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has secretly invited three men from Donna’s past to the wedding in the hopes of meeting her real father and having him walk her down the aisle on her big day.

Stephenie Stirrup plays Donna. New to working with Badanai Theatre, Stephenie is thrilled to work on this show. “Donna is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a woman standing on her own, raising her daughter and finding her way in the universe,” says Stirrup.  

Andrew Bryan plays Sam, one of Donna’s ex-boyfriends.  An accomplished musician, this will be his first time on stage as an actor. “I’ve never taken a drama class, done a five-minute skit, or been in a play,” says Bryan. He’s loving this experience and the onstage chemistry between he and Stirrup is obvious in their banter.

“This is a big city theatre experience, right here in Thunder Bay,” says Bryan. “We will deliver that. It’s a beautiful ride. Your heart will be full and spent and happy.”

Mamma Mia runs February 6–9, 13–16, and 20–23 at 7:30 pm at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are $25 and are available at Maple Tops. Call 344-4080 for more information