‘Mamma Mia!’ raises the bar for Cowichan Musical Society

Donna sings ‘Money, Money, Money’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Donna sings ‘Money, Money, Money’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Dancing Queen’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Dancing Queen’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Lay All Your Love on Me’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Lay All Your Love on Me’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Super Trouper’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Super Trouper’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Super Trouper’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Super Trouper’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Under Attack’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Under Attack’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
‘Does Your Mother Know’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)‘Does Your Mother Know’ in the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of ‘Mamma Mia’. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

According to former Citizen arts and entertainment reporter Lexi Bainas, the Cowichan Musical Society’s production of Mamma Mia! was quality from top to bottom.

Things started off with a little bit of chaos, as a rainstorm caused flooding in the Cowichan Valley, closing the Trans-Canada Highway between Ladysmith and Duncan. This meant the Cowichan Musical Society had to charter a boat to get one of their stars, Jaci Geiger, who played Tanya (one of the main roles), from her home in Ladysmith to the theatre on Saturday.

After that, the excitement was all on the stage.

“The quality of the singing and acting was superb,” enthused Bainas. “Donna, the lead, requires a real contralto voice and Michelle Weckesser was more than up to those low notes, performing her songs with passion and style. But all the soloists were great. And you got the feeling that the cast all felt they were involved in something really top drawer.

“The choreography for the entire show was inspired, and the performance showed the result of a great deal of rehearsal by the various groups involved. And, by not needing to use the orchestra pit, the production was able to make full use of the big stage for some sparkling dance numbers, especially ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme’, ‘Voulez vous’, and ‘I do, I do, I do’.”

The orchestra pit went unused because the Musical Society tried out something new this year. All of the singing, including the chorus parts, was live, as usual, but many of them were done from backstage. According to Bainas, “it made for a fuller, very polished and professional sound,” also keeping all of the musical numbers on tempo and the energy up in the dance numbers.

Starring roles were filled by Weckesser, Geiger, Carol Ann Darling (Rosie), Veronica Meyer (Sophie), Mackenzie Lee (Ali), Kari Cowan (Lisa), Aiden Holt (Bill), Graham Brockly (Sam), and Grant Mellemstrand (Harry).

“The lighting for this show was extremely imaginative, using light in a way that really brought Broadway to the Cowichan Theatre,” said Bainas.

The crowd was appreciative, with audience members applauding every song.

“This show has certainly raised the bar for future Cowichan Musical Society shows in future,” concluded Bainas.

Editor’s note: This story was changed to reflect that all of the singing in the show was done live.

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