It's pretty safe to say Sierra Repertory Theatre has picked a crowd pleaser to opens its 2018 season.
The frothy, feel-good musical "Mamma Mia!" features the hits of 1970s pop powerhouse group ABBA and a sunny story reminiscent of the Greek island paradise where the action unfolds.
The production runs Feb. 10-April 8 at SRT's East Sonora Theatre.
"Mamma Mia!" tells the story of a woman's search for her father while vacationing on a Greek island on the eve of her wedding. Sophie hopes to discover the identity of her father by bringing three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years earlier.
But Sophie fails to fill in her mother Donna about her invitees. Donna is a free-willing soul who was once the lead singer of a girl group, Donna and the Dynamos. The other two Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, also arrive on the island for the wedding/reunion.
Valerie Rachelle makes her Sierra Rep guest directorial debut with the musical, which she also is choreographing.
“I feel the thing about ABBA is that the music features stories about freedom, conflict, heartbreak, romance, and even sexuality of women in a way that shows strength instead of passivity,” director Valerie Rachelle said in an SRT press release. "Mamma Mia! takes the strength the music offers and gives us a lead character that has provided for herself and for her daughter all on her own and has succeeded.
"I think the message of the musical is that you can love deeply and truly and still be who you are. And possibly, love and be loved deeper because of it.”
Rachelle is currently the artistic director at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland, Oregon. She has directed and choreographed for theaters around the country including the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Fresno Grand Opera, Utah Shakespearean Festival and others.
The Sierra Rep cast consists of some company veterans and some new to the troupe. Becky Saunders, who stars as Donna Sheridan, has appeared in SRT productions including "Noises Off!" and "The Robber Bridegroom."
Carrie Brandon makes her SRT debut as Sophie Sheridan.
Other veterans to the Sonora theater are Cat Yates as Rosie Mulligan ("The Great American Trailer Park Musical") and Russell Garrett as Harry Bright ("My Fair Lady").
Also appearing for the first time with SRT are Brenda O’Brien as Tanya Cresham-Leigh, Alan Gillespie as Sam Carmichael, Kipp Moorman as Bill Austin and Bobby Cook Gallagher as Sky.
Other cast members include Bethany Baderdeen, Lucas Michael Chandler, Mandy Corbett, Hanz Enyeart, Quinn Farley, Shannon Gerrity, Jesse Graham, Natalie Graham, Derik Lawson, Zach Padlo, Reese Rush, and Kaitlyn Sage.
On Friday, March 23, there will be a Post-Show Talkback with members of the cast following the performance. The talk-back is free with the purchase of that evening's performance ticket.