Take a chance on Mamma Mia!

Co-op returns to the stage with the show after not performing live musical last year

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Nina Lynn

In the musical, Sophie’s mother Donna (Ericka Pugliese) embraces Sophie (Bella Friedman) as she prepares to get married

This week, New Trier’s choir opera program is putting on the musical Mamma Mia. Based on the 1999 musical, the plot follows twenty-year-old Sophie Sheridan, who lives on the Grecian island of Kalokairi, as she tries to find her father before she gets married. The musical is set to the songs of the Swedish 70s band Abba. 

It’s exciting, it’s terrifying at moments where you’re not sure it’s going to work out at all, and then everything magically happens to come together, which is exactly what happened here.”

— Ivanah Rajwani

This show has two casts– the Mammas and the Mias– performing Wednesday/Friday and Thursday/Saturday, respectively.

Both casts began rehearsing in January, spending two months preparing for the show.

“Rehearsal process is always pretty chaotic. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying at moments where you’re not sure it’s going to work out at all, and then everything magically happens to come together, which is exactly what happened here,” said junior Ivanah Rajwani, an Ensemble member in the Mias cast.

Despite rehearsing being tedious at times, senior Keira Botjer, who plays the role of Tanya in the Mammas cast (and whom the authors believed slayed the stage), appreciated it.

“The music and dancing of this musical was fun, which made rehearsals very enjoyable.”

Rajwani says that though she loves theater, she would appreciate newfound down time when the show ends.

“It will not set in until the curtain goes down that I’m done with the show. I’m glad to have more free time.”

Tonight’s Mamma Mia closing night performance, run by the Mias cast, has sold out on Gaffney Auditorium’s main floor, though balcony seats are still left.

Mamma Mia proved popular among New Trier students, says senior Naomi Kravitz, an Ensemble member in the Mammas cast.

“The house was full and extremely supportive. I even heard random students singing some of the songs in the halls at school, so I’d say the show was a hit!”

The show’s music was provided by a Pit Band composed of band and orchestra students. 

Junior Stacy Mok, a viola in the pit band, said she joined Mamma Mia through her Chamber Orchestra class.

“The pit band is made up of everyone in Chamber, and a few people who do instruments we don’t normally have, like guitar.”

Mok says her favorite song was Dancing Queen, and that she enjoyed playing Abba’s disco music – a break from the classical music she regularly practices. However, she did feel tired after playing multiple shows in a row.

“I have a maximum of five minutes to enjoy resting time (during the performance),” Mok said. “There’s two actor casts, but people forget that [pit band] is there everyday, instead of every other day, so it’s nice that people appreciate us, even though we have an easier job.”

Last year’s Choir Opera musical, Newsies, was filmed as opposed to performed live due to Covid-19. Kravitz says she was excited to return to the stage.

“Last year we filmed the choir opera musical, which was definitely a unique experience, but nothing compares to live theater. I am so grateful to have had the chance to perform live at New Trier one last time!”