FHS Theatre Company to Perform Mamma Mia! Show to Run November 12th & 13th
Shown, FHS Theatre Company students rehearse a scene from Mamma Mia!, which will be the first musical to be performed at Franklin High auditorium in the past couple years. The show will run Nov. 12th and 13th.
By J.D. O’Gara
My, my, how much have we missed you, productions inside FHS! Here we go again, though, as the FHS Theatre Company presents their irresistible production of Mamma Mia! – the first post-Covid production in the Franklin High School auditorium, on Friday November 12th and Saturday, November 13th.
“The story of Mamma Mia! is a little bit of a sweet tooth of a musical in regard to everyone’s knowledge of Abba’s music,” says Skylar Grossman, Franklin High School Theatre Arts Teacher and Director. “The whole show is like a continuous party on stage. If you aren’t dancing in your seat, I don’t think you have a pulse.”
Between 70 and 80 students are involved in the production of the upcoming musical, from actors and musicians (students will play alongside professional musicians in the orchestra pit) to those working backstage building sets, working on sound and lighting, preparing costumes and doing makeup. FHS Theatre Company (FHSTC) allows students a variety of theatrical experiences in a judgment-free environment, and some of the lead players in the upcoming production remark on the camaraderie. “I love this company. They are like a family to me,” says FHS sophomore Brandi Dumas, who plays Sophie Sheridan, a character raised by her single Mom, Donna (played by Brandi’s sister, Sarah) in search of her father. “I’ve connected to all of them so strongly … I’m here pretty much every day on stage when I can be.” Dumas, who’s been acting since she was about 7, says she loves the Abba soundtrack, and she’s inspired by her character’s ability to tackle problems head on.
Sarah Dumas, also in 10th grade, jokes that, as the character, Donna, a single Mom who runs a taverna, “when I boss (my sister) around, I can say I was getting into character.” This is Sarah’s first production with FHSTC, although she has done theatre elsewhere. “I haven’t done a show since the pandemic, so this is really refreshing,” says Sarah, who has found FHSTC welcoming. “I’m really excited to be back on stage and just get back into that community. Being part of the cast, something bigger than yourself, I find that important, but I’m a little nervous, because Donna is a big character, with big emotions. She just loves really deeply, and she holds grudges. It’s fun to occupy the character, because she’s willing to let go and kind of enjoy life. That’s something I have been learning to do for sure.”
Simon Jones, in 11th grade, who plays Sophie’s fiancé, Sky, says he also finds his role of “the perfect example of the perfect boyfriend” a fun challenge. Jones has been with the company for three years and did theatre before that, as well as has taken private voice lessons.
Joe Maple, a senior, plays Harry Bright—one of Sophie’s three possible fathers invited to her wedding. Maple, who’s been in eight productions, has had fun taking on Harry’s British accent as well as his quirky character. He’s also learning some guitar as part of his role.
“I like playing with changing my personality to kind of fit the character. Changing myself to be other characters is teaching me about my personality traits,” says Maple. “Through theatre, I’ve learned to express myself and express my social abilities. This is a group of very accepting people. We support each other. I feel like this is a no-pressure zone.”
“I think it’s going to be a really good production. The cast is really strong, and it’s going to be cool to be inside again and have all the tech equipment, all the sound equipment and what we’ll be using to light the stage,” says Andrew Mitchell, a senior who plays Sam Carmichael, another of Sophie’s three possible Dads. Mitchell says he’s challenged by his complex, ambitious character, who realizes something is missing in his life. The FHSTC, says Mitchell, “is really great. You can just come here and feel like you can be yourself and put yourself into a shared passion.”
The third possible father of Sophie, Bill Austin, is played by junior Thomas Schratz.
“He’s a little more like laid back than the others,” says Schratz, of his character. “Bill doesn’t really want to be in a relationship, so he provides kind of a unique dynamic, sort of a lone wolf.” Schratz, who’s been singing since he was young, says that being back on the FHS stage allows for “more immersive acting. You can get into character better.”
The theatre students are definitely putting their all into the demanding production, with more hours required for lead parts. “In a week, average practices range about three hours a day, and I often take a couple hours after that, I’d say 25 hours a week from start to finish, says Brandi Dumas, who says rehearsals began in early September.
“This group of students is passionate, they are incredibly dedicated, they consider this program a second home, and they consider it participants a second family,” says Director Grossman, who is relieved to be back in what he calls a “gem” of a performance space, integral to a well-rounded theatre education. “(Students) basically eat, sleep, breathe every essence of this program, and they are proud of it.”
While proud of his students’ professionalism, Grossman deems equally important that they “have a lot of fun and get to collaborate with their peers and do something they love.”
You can stay apprised of the latest productions by FHSTC on Instagram: @fhstc , Twitter: @FranklinHSDrama and Facebook at Franklin High School Theatre Company. For tickets to Mamma Mia!, visit https://www.onthestage.tickets/show/franklin-high-school-theatre-company/mamma-mia-68252