Drama teachers across North America have been waiting more than 20 years to get their hands on the Broadway musical Mamma Mia!.
Including Cynthia Lacroix, drama teacher at Garibaldi secondary.
“As long as it was playing on Broadway, no one in North America basically got to do it,” explained Lacroix.
Lacroix, who for the past decade has been a member of the Broadway Teachers Workshop in New York City where drama teachers from around the world travel receive once-in-a-lifetime classes with Broadway directors and creators, heard that the show was coming but The Arts Club had sealed the rights.
Then as she was preparing to put on the Disney musical Aladdin she thought she would ask again if she could put on the show. She was told she would have to wait until November 2019.
Lacroix was disappointed. She does not like to put on shows that she has already done in the past.
“If I can’t get a show, I don’t want to work,” said the drama teacher.
“Then by some miracle, a week later, I got the rights to 2018. Don’t know how. Didn’t ask any questions. I just begged my principal to pay the full rights immediately so that nothing could be altered, and then away we went,” she said.
Mamma Mia! is the story about a bride-to-be who is searching for her real father. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past who are potential candidates. The musical based on the songs of the 1970’s Swedish pop group ABBA.
The title of the musical is taken from the group’s 1975 hit song of the same name.
“The story is so fun. The songs are awesome. Kids love singing those songs. It’s just win win all over the place,” laughed Lacroix.
“The cool thing is it’s set exactly the same timeline as my life,’ continued Lacroix.
“Donna, (Sophie’s mother), had graduated at the timeline I had graduated in the 70’s and then had her child and lived through the 90’s kind of the exact same time period that I lived through like the 80’s and 90’s. So I can really relate to her journey,” she said.
Then, Lacroix added, her daughter went the complete opposite of her mother, wanting a white wedding.
“That’s not something that we were super incensed about in the 70’s. It wasn’t a huge deal to have a big white wedding,” explained Lacroix.
Lacroix loves the musical because it echoes the “normal journey of life”.
Cast and crew of the show will include about 40 students.
There will also be a live band.
“We’ve been using the Joe Fernandes Band for about five years now,” said Lacroix, who enjoys the live music because it brings another performing artist into the theatre.
The show will include 24 songs.
What is unique about this production is that it is more traditional compared to the musicals Lacroix has put on in recent years.
“I’ve been doing Rent and Peter and the Starcatcher and Legally Blonde. These are all new plays with new interesting arrangements and more modernized in the 21st Century, where Mamma Mia! is indeed 20 years old and is back in the 20th Century,” Lacroix said of the 1999 jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson.
Lacroix is unsure if this will be her last show for Garibaldi as retirement already came up for her in 2016 and she has scaled down her workload, delegating responsibilities to other instructors.
“My final show is going to be a decision made in great sadness citing in my pagoda at home,” she laughed.
Her love of theatre is far from retiring, though.
“If you sit in that theatre and actually think 360 (degrees), you have the lighting, you have the sound technicians, you have a phenomenal production team that is managing 250 props that you won’t even notice came on that stage. To me it’s the magic of everybody having collaborated together so you can sit and relax and follow a story,” said Lacroix.
“But to me if you are sitting there for just one second, think about what’s going on in that whole entire theatre and enjoy that. Enjoy that magic happened.”