A pair of dancing queens and best friends are taking over the Brookswood Secondary school stage with the upcoming production of the hit musical rom-com Mama Mia! starting on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Grade 11 student Esther Jackson is playing the role of Sophie – the daughter of a single mother, who is set on finding out who her dad is before she gets married.
“The character [Sophie] is very focused on what she’s doing and it’s a bit of a scheme so it’s fun to try to keep secrets and play it off. There’s so many times I have to pretend I don’t know something,” explained Jackson.
Playing the role of Sophie’s mother, Donna, is Grade 11 student Breanna Nichols.
“She’s [Donna] in a bit of a frenzy setting up for the wedding and getting everything organized when three guys from her past come in and make everything a mess. It’s hard because I don’t have the same experiences as someone the character’s age would have. I think about how they might feel and try to bring that to stage.” elaborated Nichols.
And the mother-daughter leads are also “best friends,” in real life, according to Nichols.
While the teens have both been in Brookswood’s musical theatre program for a couple years, Mama Mia! is the first time each of them have had a lead role.
Jackson said having Nichols on stage makes for an easier performance because Nichols is someone she can “consult” with.
“It makes me feel really good because I have someone with me who I can consult with and confide in. We back each other up and support each other. She’s [Nichols] very, very talented and I’m so glad she got that role. She deserves it.”
Both girls have lived in Langley their entire lives, and agree the music is the best part of the show.
“This is one of my favourite shows so getting to sing my favourite songs is awesome,” said Nichols.
Jackson added the duo performs one song together called Slipping Through My Fingers.
“We hope to make it emotional and strong enough to move the audience to tears,” she said.
Brookswood Secondary theatre and film teacher Sheri Eyre is co-directing the student musical with theatre teacher Gordon Hamilton.
“The music is so catchy, it’s bright, it’s like going on vacation. It is a big show technically and vocally but we felt we had the cast for it and the talent,” said Eyre.
According to Eyre, the cast consists of 27 students who are accompanied by a 15-person student orchestra, and 12 behind-the-scenes crew members.
“We rehearse four days a week after school, [since September] now we’re up to six days a week because we come in on Sundays. These kids are so committed and so dedicated and they love each other. They just become this family and give us so much of their time and energy,” Eyre explained.
The musical theatre program is an after-school class for students in Grade 8 to 12, although there is also drama, acting, stage craft, directing, and script writing classes during the school day.
“I believe it’s important to learn how to work with others and how to collaborate with others. Theatre teaches so many skills from seeing the world from another perspective which is what happens when you take on a role, knowing that your input is valuable as a whole, and I also feel like theatre’s a place where kids can be themselves,” added Eyre.
New this year is an audience sing-along at the Feb. 14 performance, and a matinee show at 1 p.m. on Feb. 15.
Mama Mia! runs from Wednesday, Feb. 6-9, Feb. 13-16, and performances begin at 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $15 and are available online: https://bssmamamia.brownpapertickets.com/