‘Mamma Mia!’: Seneca students display a variety of talents in their most recent musical

Mamma Mia!: Seneca students display a variety of talents in their most recent musical

Ruthie Light, Editor

This past weekend, Seneca High School put on their school’s rendition of ‘Mamma Mia!’ for their spring musical. As someone who absolutely loves this production, I definitely have a few thoughts and opinions on how the show unraveled. Before beginning, it should be noted that many of the actors in this show are not particularly experienced in singing in musicals, as Seneca usually puts on plays where there is no singing. Also, I have since been informed that there were a few difficulties with cast members and production, which could also explain the varying degrees of talent on display.

To begin, the soundtrack of “Mamma Mia!” is complete with a full set of songs by the band ABBA. ABBA was an extremely popular band in the ‘70s and ‘80s, with hit songs such as: “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes it All,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” These songs have been beloved for years by people of all generations. However, the cast of this particular show seemed to be very unfamiliar with the songs. There were a few points in the show where it seemed like the audience knew the songs better than the actors. Particularly, I noticed during the “Lay All Your Love on Me” scene, everyone in the ensemble was singing, except for the ensemble member who actually had a microphone. This detail really dulled-down the scene, as a good portion of that song is to be sung by the ensemble, exclusively. Overall, it was apparent that the cast was just not feeling the music as their characters were meant to be. 

Moving on, the actual acting was definitely lacking as well. During most of the songs, there was a loss of emotion and performance that is crucial to the plot. At times, the ensemble’s performance was more flavorful and enthusiastic than the actual leads of the show. Although the wow factor was missing for the most part, there were a few characters that really stood out, performance wise. Those characters were: Donna (Sierra Yosten), Sam (Aiden Harencame), Rosie (Skylar White) and Pepper (Michael Burlingham). Sierra Yosten, the young lady who portrayed Donna Sheridan, definitely had the most outspoken and tasteful voice. Some of the songs she sings are difficult, and as someone who might not be experienced in musicals, it really shows guts and bravery. Next, Aiden Harencame, the student that played Sam Charmichael, stood out with his easy-going flow and comfortability on stage. He stood out most at times when he had to dance and jive. His moves looked extremely natural and organic on stage. If being a theater kid is not his calling, then dancing definitely is! Moving on to Skylar White, the student who played Rosie, who definitely had one of my favorite performances in the show. It was extremely apparent that she was feeling her character the most, and really took time to get to know the spunky woman she was playing. It is admirable that she was not afraid to fall on the ground and be “embarrassing”  in order to portray her character. Lastly, my other favorite performance of the show was by Michael Burlingham, who played the character Pepper. Although Pepper is not a major character in the show, his emotion and portrayal of the character was extremely notable, and at times, it added the spice that the other performers were not particularly displaying. Specifically, during the “Does Your Mother Know?” scene, he portrays the attraction that the character is feeling toward Tonya. Even at the end of the show when he is rejected and Tonya leaves the island, he is pretending to cry, directly expressing the exact emotion his character is feeling. 

This production, though, was not entirely lacking. Seneca’s set design for “Mamma Mia!” was extremely impressive, and it genuinely looks very professional and accurate to the location. The painted mural of Greece was extremely well done, and it is noticeable how much time and effort went into crafting it. Also, the Taverna that was built was very accurate to Greek architecture, and it really helped set the scene of the show. Set design is more important to an on-stage performance than most people would think. Articulate and accurate set designs are crucial to the overall plot of the story, and is one of the most important factors for moving the story along. In Seneca’s case, they absolutely nailed it with their gorgeous structures. 

All in all, Seneca’s rendition of “Mamma Mia!” was not fantastic. There was definitely room to improve, but you’ll have that in a high school theater setting. Although the performances were not particularly breath-taking, there were still some fun moments that definitely received some good laughs from the audience. Overall, I would rate this performance a ⅖ stars.