When I was in graduate school for arts management at George Mason University, one of my evening classes was in Publicity and Marketing. The professor was the original marketing director for the Broadway production of MAMMA MIA, which opened in New York in 2001, after rave reviews on the West End in London. She taught us all about the genius of this rock musical, based on the songs of the 1970’s Swedish sensation band, ABBA. In many ways, the show sold itself due to the popularity of the score, which brings many audience members to their feet as they literally dance in the aisles.

In producing this very popular musical at the high school level, we will endeavor to bring this same excitement of sing along songs, dancing in the aisles, and falling in love with our cast of mixed generational characters. We will aim to create the realism of relationships between the 20 something youths and the 40 something parent figures. In many ways, their lives mirror each other as the young ones embrace the excitement of starting their adult lives, while their elders vicariously relive their best days.

A prevalent grouping that repeats itself in this story is the relationship of three. The mother Donna and her two best friends, the daughter Sophie and her two best friends, the fiancé Sky and his two best friends, and the three former lovers of Donna, one of whom which is the unwitting father to Sophie. As we create dances, stage pictures, and ensemble groups, I would like to explore the dynamics of threes.

The story takes place in the early 2000’s, on an idyllic Greek Island, full of bright colors, natural sunlight, and blue waters. I plan for us to create a multiple level set with flowing staircases, bedroom balconies, open windows, stylized shutters, arched portals, and narrow alleyways. We will envision the central location of Donna’s Taverna Hotel and bar, while leaving room for seascape entrances and sunset backdrops. Costumes should reflect the loose linens of island ware, sandaled feet, and flowing hair. Lighting should be provocative of many LED colors, disco ball reflections, and timeline backlighting to show the hour of the day. As the story takes place over a two-day time span, it is important to show the differences between daylight reunions, nighttime parties, and a morning wedding. Add to all that a live rock band in the pit, and we will have all the ingredients to create this vibrant jukebox musical.

As for the marketing and advertisement, we have the joy of knowing this musical already has a built-in audience due to its popularity. However, we must find new ways to celebrate the iconic images, the familiar melodies, and the big dance numbers. What else can we do to build our audience sales from the days of casting to curtains up on opening night? One of the genius publicity ideas of the original Broadway tour was selling flip flops with the show’s logo on the bottom of the feet, particularly popular in beach towns. It made for free advertising all along the sands and created a buzz to get others to the show before it left town. With only 4 shows to celebrate our creative process and 9-week journey, we may steal a tag line from the Dynamos: Live for one night, and one night only!

MAMMA MIA comes to the town of Herndon. Don’t miss out!