By Megan Wirts
LionHeart Productions has done it again! Their take on the classic disco delight Mama Mia is a must see! Even if you aren't a disco fan, you will love this show filled with talented people from all around this great community. There are new faces, LionHeart stage staples and lots of sequins.
Under the direction of Dana McKnight, the cast comes to life at the Grant Fine Arts Center stage set on a quaint island in Greece to celebrate a wedding. Sophie, played by the magnificent Meghan McKnight who’s voice shines in this role, is about to be married and she longs to be walked down the aisle by her father. The only trouble is, she doesn’t know who her father is! Here mother Donna, played by LionHeart newcomer Mandy Casebolt, has kept the secret from her daughter for 20 years and thanks to Sophie’s meddling the three possible papas show up to attend the wedding festivities causing much chaos and shenanigans to ensue. All of this is set to the classic sounds of ABBA and there is plenty of disco dancing!
The stage, designed by Mike Gesler, is set to look like a beautiful Taverna on a small Greek island. Even with snow on the ground outside, it felt like a warm summer day by the ocean on stage. You are immediately are met with the beautiful voice of Meghan McKnight as Sophie singing I Have A Dream and the wild ride begins. This show left me laughing and wanting to get up and dance, which I did by the end! Mandy Casebolt is an excellent Donna, the tough single mother with a wild past, she really shows us her power in solo The Winner Takes it All. She is joined by her two best friends and former band members of Donna and the Dynamos played by Julia Scarlett Cole as Tanya and Cammie Hollinger as Rosie. Julia and Cammie play the feisty, fun and flirty besties. Julia will have you cracking up during her number Does Your Mother Know? and Cammie will make you want to get up and wiggle your disco booty in her take on Take a Chance on Me! Individually all three ladies have strong vocals and when all are together they knock it out of the park! Dancing Queen’s indeed!!
Then there are the three disco dads, Jamie Evans as Harry, Nick Koogler as Bill and David Hatter as Sam. All three are LionHeart veterans and are always a pleasure to watch! Jamie is great as Harry, the former headbanger that has only ever loved one woman. Nick shines as Bill, the traveling author and has great comedic timing. David is fantastic as Sam, the architect that is reluctant at first to be on the island again after 20 years. You will love their excellent dance moves in the number Gimme Gimme Gimme!
The cast also includes Jarod Howel as Sky, the love of Sophie’s life. He has an excellent voice and is perfectly cast as Sky. Raymond Gardner as one of Sky’s groomsmen Eddie, adds some great comedic relief. Then there is Graydon Gesler as Pepper. Pepper is definitely a scene stealer and will have you roaring with laughter.
Rounding out the cast are the vivacious and fabulous Anya VanderMeulen and Gabby Horrisberger as Lisa and Ali, Sophie’s bridesmaids and best friends. They both have lovely vocals and their bubbly personalities light up the stage during their scenes. The strong ensemble is filled with many members of the community, from highschool students, college students, stay at home moms and retirees. It was a joy to watch!
LionHeart Productions is comprised entirely of volunteers. From the board members to the set builders and costume designers, the musicians in the pit and the actors on the stage, all of it is done simply because of the love of theater and wanting to share it with our community. The people on stage and behind the scenes work at your local schools, churches and banks. You might see them in line at the local grocery store or supporting their own children at sporting events. In a small community like Grant and all over Newaygo County, we are so incredibly lucky to have such phenomenal entertainment provided by LionHeart Productions. Countless hours are put into shows like this behind the scenes and I want to personally thank you for putting in the time, effort and sacrifices to bring shows like Mama Mia to us!
Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing show!
Show dates and times: November 9 at 7:30pm, 10 at 2:00, 15 at 7:30pm, & 16 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for Seniors (60+) and students. Groups of 10+ receive the 10th ticket free.
Get your tickets online at Grant Fine Arts Center
Tickets are also available in person or via phone at the Fine Arts Center Box Office. Hours are 3-6 pm Monday through Friday during the weeks of the performances, and one hour prior to performance. The Box Office can be contacted directly at (231) 834-5630.
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