Elly on the Arts: Musical fever returns to Flin Flon

Mamma Mia!

Here they – the Flin Flon Community Choir, under the direction of Crystal Kolt – goes again. My, my; how can we resist them?

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One of the most popular musical experiences of the new millenium comes to Flin Flon on May 9-12 and the good news is there were, at press time, still 60 tickets available for the various nights of the run.

The cast is spectacular, thanks in no small part to the hard work and incredible experience of Ann Hodges, director extraordinaire. She came, she saw and she moulded the cast, dancers and crew into shape evenings and weekends, after work for most. Of course, she has done it before with Les Miserables, but this production has dancing. Hodges is really talented and can “see” the whole show so she can pace the action and hit the “buttons” (that’s a term I learned from sneaking into rehearsals) for maximum effect. All the while, she builds to the big moments. She really is brilliant.

The leading characters of Donna and her daughter Sophie are played by the phenomenal Emily Sparling and luminous Anna Harrison. They have inhabited their characters and make them sing and dance as if it were the most natural thing in the world. That is exactly what you need if a musical theatre production is to have life.

They are ably assisted by the Dads, John Bettger, Kevin Imrie and Raphael Saray and Donna’s friends Rosie, played by Natalie Milligan and Tanya, performed by Katrina Windjack. Then there are the kids – Logan Oulette, Mari Pettersen, Jacob Harvie and Alain Lachappelle. These performers sing, dance and provide comic moments like the professionals they have become.

The beautiful and talented local artist Janelle Hacault choreographed this production and rehearsed the 20-plus dancers, mostly from Montreal by Skype technology. The cast has worked really hard and it will show on opening night.

There are 23 different tunes (plus three in the ending) and many hundreds of moves. Oulette, Pettersen, Jelisa Wiegers and Landice Yestrau are the dance captains who have the additional responsibility of keeping the dancing chorus on beat. These are real skills the women have learned on the fly. They are fantastic.

Because we have become the cultural hub of the north, we have talent in the region to put a band in the pit for this show of hit songs. Mark Kolt is on keyboards, Dean Martin is on drums, Brent Lethbridge and Dave Gunn are on guitar, Paul Bergman is on bass and Susan Lethbridge provides percussion. The band also had work to do to accompany the songs and dances that are such a big part of this show, but they really shine in the incidental moments that bridge scenes and really cements the show together. They are going to glow in performance.

It would not be a Flin Flon musical without one surprise however. The new, big deal for this show is Seth Johnson who is on the cusp of a great career in Canadian theatre. We will be able to say, “Oh yeah, he played in Flin Flon.” Seth will be playing Sky, Sophie’s fiance, and is a total triple threat – he can act, sing and dance. He has just announced that he will be touring in Grease as part of the Drayton Festival series when he returns to Toronto. Drayton is a professional summer theatre festival that has six venues across southern Ontario. They do musical theatre and lots of comedies, which this season includes Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (which we really need to do here).

You’re gonna love him, so enjoy Mamma Mia!

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