Mamma Mia! the musical to raise the bar for Busselton theatre arts

Mamma Mia!: Cast and crew say the upcoming show will raise the bar for performing arts in Busselton. Picture: Supplied.
Mamma Mia!: Cast and crew say the upcoming show will raise the bar for performing arts in Busselton. Picture: Supplied.

An upcoming theatre production of Mamma Mia! is set to bring a level of performance that Busselton has never seen before, with a huge new stage ready to wow audiences.

A cast and crew of almost 40 members have been preparing since March to bring Mamma Mia! to the High Street Hall, with final rehearsals now underway for shows starting May 12.

Many people are already familiar with the emotion and high energy songs of Mamma Mia! the 2008 movie, but many don't know that the musical theatre production came first.

Leading actress Breanna Redhead, 21, said this meant the musical theatre script closely resembled the movie, bringing 24 ABBA songs to life in the span of two hours.

"I've been watching it a lot, to see how they do certain scenes and how the actors emote," she said.

Breanna has long been involved in theatre, and new to the area, she immediately started hunting for her "performing arts fix" when she moved to Busselton in late 2021.

Lead role: Actress Breanna Redhead said playing Sophie in Mamma Mia! is the biggest role she's ever had in musical theatre. Picture: Supplied.

Lead role: Actress Breanna Redhead said playing Sophie in Mamma Mia! is the biggest role she's ever had in musical theatre. Picture: Supplied.

It wasn't long before auditions for Busselton's own Mamma Mia! show were advertised, and word spread online that 'Breanna Redhead' should apply.

"About 10 of my friends had all tagged me in it, 'look at this'," she said.

Breanna auditioned and said she was stoked to land the leading role of Sophie, a young woman who invites three of her possible fathers to her Greek Island wedding in a bid to discover which one is her true father.

A long way from her early roles in high school and amateur theatre group productions, Breanna said that acting as Sophie was a highlight of her emerging theatre career.

"This is the biggest role I've ever had in a show," she said.

"I've played a few supporting characters in my time, but this is super exciting, and really nerve wracking. With this, I'm in basically every song."

Breanna said that normally singing comes naturally to her, but the show required a new level of concentration to hit the notes while keeping up with the choreography.

With big dance numbers like Voulez-Vous, Money Money Money and Under Attack requiring high levels of movement while singing, she said preparing to be Sophie had been a steep learning curve.

"I soon realised how much singing I do and how much of a toll that takes on my voice," she said.

"It's finding that balance of being able to focus on my singing but not having that take away from my acting and the emotion of the singing.

"It's been a lot of learning, which is awesome for me, that's why I do it."

The cast and crew aim to get the audience up on their feet by the end of the show, singing and dancing along to the ABBA songs that everybody knows.

Jacob Arnold and Jake Sheedy prepare the set for Mamma Mia! the musical. Picture: Supplied.

Jacob Arnold and Jake Sheedy prepare the set for Mamma Mia! the musical. Picture: Supplied.

Director Stephen Lee said that when rehearsals started almost three months ago, there was uncertainty that COVID restrictions would allow for it to go ahead.

He said the last week of preparations would be the final hurdle, with some members of the cast due to come out of isolation just days before curtains open.

"We've had to do more work than we've ever done before, on making people ready to cover other people. It's a different world at the moment and we're dealing with it.

"We're going to be fine for opening. We knew this would happen."

Stephen has worked in theatre for more than 45 years, and has spent the last 15 working in Busselton with artistic director Russel Chandler.

He said Mamma Mia! was one of the biggest productions they had worked on.

"This is the first time that we've really taken over a space, and we're putting in a stage which is bigger alone than many theatres I've worked in," he said.

"A lot of effort has gone into making this as big and spectacular as we possibly can.

"This has been an attempt to really raise the bar, because things are happening in Busselton with the new theatre arts centre. Busselton could really lift now into another area of theatre. This is our attempt to start lifting our game to a new higher level."

Presented by Busselton theatre company Bare Naked Events, Mamma Mia! shows will run at the High Street Hall in Busselton, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from May 12 - 22.

You can get tickets at barenakedevents.com.au/mamma-mia/