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Get ready dancing queens: Mamma Mia premieres at Victoria Theatre this week

Get ready dancing queens!

The Muse Machine presents the 1999 ABBA-friendly blockbuster “Mamma Mia!” Jan. 10-13 at the Victoria Theatre.

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More than 130 students from across the Miami Valley will participate in the arts education organization’s 35th annual musical featuring over 20 hits written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus including “Money, Money, Money,” “Super Trouper,” “The Name of the Game,” “The Winner Takes it All,” and the title tune. On a tiny Greek island, single mother Donna Sheridan delicately balances the exciting upcoming wedding of her only daughter, Sophie, with the shock and awe of being unexpectedly reunited with her three former suitors. Nerves are tested and feelings are bruised, but the pursuit of love and making amends with the past prevails.

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“It just feels that we’ve reached a point in time in Muse history to produce this show which is about love in all of its different forms and the different ways we can all come together,” said producer Douglas Merk, inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame last year.

“And has been the case with many shows we’ve done, we have reshaped ‘Mamma Mia!’ to suit us. We are bringing the appropriate Muse colors to it which will keep the audience on board in spite of its content. And the music is so much fun and playful. We actually have four keyboards in the orchestra because we have to honor the ABBA sound. The music not only makes the characters dance but the audience as well. And maybe in our own real life history, it’s not a bad time for that kind of show right now.”

“This story is certainly a lot of fun but it’s also a search, a yearning, for a father and a story of love,” echoed director Rufus Bonds Jr., the Broadway veteran and Drama Desk nominee (“Parade”) returning for the first time since helming Muse’s 2012 production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“One of the biggest lessons in the story is to never give up on love. I believe love conquers all and I want the audience to walk away feeling the same. I also want them to leave their cares outside and be happy living in the world of this show. It’s so great to be back with Muse as well. The students are always so attentive and present and it’s a joy to see.”

“The cast has had so much fun intertwining the dances of the 1970s into the 1990s,” added longtime Muse choreographer Lula Elzy, founder and artistic director of the Lula Elzy New Orleans Dance Theatre. “We’re (bridging) disco with the movement of present day.”

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The principal cast consists of Melanie Dodson as Donna, Charlotte Kunesh as Sophie, Courtney Collinsworth as Tanya, Sara LiBrandi as Rosie, Desmond Kingston as Sam Carmichal, Michael Taylor as Harry Bright, Steven Greenwalt as Bill Austin, Regin Potter as Sky, Bryce Galvan as Pepper, Nick Bradley as Eddie, Trinity Wolff as Ali, Julie Murphy as Cassie, Marisha Osowski as Lisa, Macy Patton as Nina, and Fischer Barnett as Father Alexandrios.

“I think ‘Mamma Mia!’ resonates because it celebrates women and women of a certain age,” said Collinsworth, a Dayton Christian High School junior making her Muse debut following a standout titular turn last season in Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg’s production of “Mary Poppins.”

“This show successfully rejoices in the strength of a woman who is on her own. Together, the Dynamos, Donna, Tanya and Rosie, not only bring joy to the audience every time they interact, but they continue to encourage independent women. Their friendship may seem unlikely, but they all share a sense of youthfulness and joy that helps lift dreary circumstances that attempt to tear these friends apart. Watching these middle-aged characters dance and sing as if they were 17 again is what brings home the idea you’re never too old to be the ‘dancing queen.’”

WANT TO GO? 

What: Muse Machine presents “Mamma Mia!”

Where:  Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: Thursday, Jan. 10. through Sunday, Jan. 13. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. 

Cost: $27-$65

More info: Call 937-228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com.

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