Pure Joy! “Mamma Mia!” Opens at Palisades High School

(Caption (left to right), Rosie (Carlie Given), Donna (River Tharae) and Tanya (Chantal Trent) perform in “Mamma Mia!”

This is the kind of production that makes you glad there is live theater. This reviewer listened in awe at the tremendous voices in the Palisades High School production of “Mamma Mia” – and never stopped smiling- because it was pure joy to be there.

The staging, the costuming and the choreography were all top-notch, and the 10-piece orchestra balanced perfectly with the performers.

Do yourself a favor. If you like theater and have never gone to a musical at the high school, go to this one.

“Mamma Mia!” a musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, is based on songs recorded by Swedish group ABBA. The musical opened in the West End of London in 1999 and opened in the U.S. in San Francisco in 2000 before moving to Los Angeles. It opened on Broadway in 2001.

Join the cast as they sing through hits “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money” and “Mamma Mia.”

The action takes place at a rustic inn on the sunny, paradisiacal Greek island where Sophie (Annika Johansson), the main character, grew up. From the moment she steps on stage Johansson is the epitome of sweetness and innocence—with an incredible voice.

It is clear why director Nancy Fracchiolla cast her in the lead, because how many exceptional voices can one high school have?

It turns out many. With the introduction of Sophie’s mother Donna (River Tharae), the audience realizes there is another fantastic singer in a main role—and then her two best friends, Rosie (Carlie Given), and Tanya (Chantal Trent) are superb, too.

It became obvious that Fracchiolla was tasked with finding a musical that would allow many “stars” to shine—and they did.

The story revolves around Sophie, who is about to marry her fiancé, Sky (Asker Bishop), and wants her father to walk her down the aisle but doesn’t know who he is. After she discovers her mother’s old diary, the search is narrowed to Harry (Theo King), Bill (Sammy White) and Sam (Ben Santos).

The guys are all good and Santos is a joy to listen to, what a pure lovely voice!

Sophie invites all three of her possible fathers to the wedding, without telling her mother Donna. Who will walk her down the aisle? Who is her father? Is it important?

More than 100 Pali students were part of the production, that was choreographed by Hazel Clarke.

Opening night is tomorrow, Friday, October 7, at 8 p.m. The rest of the performances are 7 p.m. on October 8, 9, 13, 14 and 15. For tickets: go.palihigh.org/gofan.

(Editor’s note: to my Palisades Optimist friend that traveled downtown to the Ahmanson to see the musical “Oklahoma” and was disappointed. Travel to PaliHi and see “Mamma Mia!” you won’t be sorry.)


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1 Response to Pure Joy! “Mamma Mia!” Opens at Palisades High School

  1. Gary York says:

    Yes Oklahoma was terrible. Very depressing rather than uplifting.

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