New theater company makes its debut with 'Mamma Mia!' at Cutting Hall
Golden Ticket Productions to make its theatrical debut with 'Mamma Mia!' at Cutting Hall
A new theater ensemble burst on the scene this year in the Northwest suburbs. Golden Ticket Productions mounted a cabaret fundraiser in May and will soon debut its first staged show with the hit musical "Mamma Mia!"
The show opens Aug. 16 at Cutting Hall in Palatine and features a cast mixed with theater veterans and newcomers, but this much they share: They all love the music of Swedish pop sensation ABBA.
"You can't beat singing, 'Dancing Queen,'" says Ann Arza of Buffalo Grove, who plays the role of Donna Sheridan, Sophie's mother in the show.
"The show is lighthearted and fun, but has some tender moments as well," says Arza, who is coming off performing in "Shrek," produced by St. James Theater in Arlington Heights. "It talks about what a lack of communication can do to relationships."
Rick Hollander of Palatine plays the role of Harry Bright, one of three prospective fathers of Sophie. Tom Hussey of Arlington Heights and Alan Williams of Crystal Lake round out the trio.
Hollander agrees that the chance to sing the pop hits in the show initially drew him, but being around its dynamic performers has been refreshing.
"I love this cast," says Hollander, who has performed in many community theater productions. "They have so much energy and talent, that it's contagious."
One of those actors is Gabriella Rago of Bensenville. She plays young bride-to-be Sophie, who wants her father to walk her down the aisle, which triggers the plot of the show. Rago is a theater student at North Central College in Naperville.
Joe Pope of Lisle directs the show, and he co-founded the new company with Alana Stephens of Round Lake, who choreographed "Mamma Mia!," and Ean Kryska of Chicago.
Right from the start, they wanted to breathe new life into "Mamma Mia!," they say, envisioning the Greek island as an escape from reality. Audiences will see this in Stephens' choreography, as well as in the set design, lighting and special costumes.
"When we decided to produce 'Mamma Mia!,' we challenged ourselves to provide our audience with a fresh experience of a show they have likely seen before," Pope says.
"As a creative team, we collaborated with the cast during rehearsals, and found many opportunities to evoke fresh meaning and intention behind every scene and song."
That collaborative approach seems to sum up their vision for their production company. Its directors seek to build awareness, drive change and connect people to live theater.
"As a new company, we're trying to open up opportunities for people to get involved in theater," Stephens says. "We're committed to keeping the arts and theater alive."
They also are committed to making theater accessible, she adds. Select performances of "Mamma Mia!" will have an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing, which she believes is something of a first for musicals staged in the area.
Cast members also will hold a meet-and-greet with children in the audience after its performance Aug. 23.
"We want to inspire more young people to experience theater," Stephens adds. "You never know where it can lead."
If you goWhat: Golden Ticket Productions presents "Mamma Mia!"
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16, 17, 23 and 24; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 and 25
Where: Cutting Hall, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine
Cost: $20 in advance and $25 at the door