Behind The Scenes: Diving Into the Mamma Mia! Production


Photo Credits: Adams Theater Instagram

The Disco Ball that is shined on during the Bows at the end of Mamma Mia!

The Production of Mamma Mia!, performed by the Rochester Adams Theater Club, just finished at Adams High School, the show lasted from April 13-16th. The actors and technicians have been practicing since January 9th, but only recently were able to practice with the set.

“My favorite part of Mamma Mia was getting to work and getting to know so many new people in a way I had never known before. Everyone was so awesome and the show was so much fun to put on, the amount of stress it created brought the club closer together,” said Ray Domulewicz, the stage manager for the production of Mamma Mia.

Mamma Mia tells the story of a young girl, Sophie, and the search for her birth father. She invites three men from her mother’s past back to a mysterious island. The musical features ABBA’s songs to tell an enchanting story of love, laughter, and friendship.

The set of the show contains two levels, with the first level featuring four doorways and the upper level containing a balcony with two. The set also displays sandy stones and is particularly special because of its two levels and the featured balcony. The set is painted a sandy color, with accents of light blue. 

From January to April, The Theater Club has been working extensively on the musical, working on vocals, lines, sets, props, and more. It all leads up to tech week, a week prior to the opening night of the play where actors and technicians regularly work past 7:00 PM. This week consists of running through the musical with all the technical elements involved, including lighting, sound, the set, and props, which all present various aspects of the musical. Actors and technicians work together to memorize where props go and how actors move around with the set. 

On one of these days, the Theater Club holds a matinee, where all theater students are called out of school and work on rehearsing the play from 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM, to ensure a great performance.

“It’s an extremely stressful technical catch-all week for all things theatrically tech. While I don’t necessarily enjoy it, it’s amazing to see a show before and after that week because by Friday you’ll have a fully functional set, lights, sound, and movement system. It’s so worth it to see a show go from a glorified rehearsal to an actual production,” said Domulewicz. 

During show days, actors and technicians work to make sure all parts are perfect, with people beginning to arrive at 4:30 PM, receiving their mics and doing a sound check. While technicians sweep the stage, actors are getting their makeup and costumes done and running through specific dances. At 6:15 PM, there are vocal warm-ups and at 6:30-6:55 PM, there is a meeting to talk about the musical and do secret senior traditions. The show begins at 7:00 PM. 

A significant aspect of live theater is that there is always something new happening every night. Grant Roodbeen, who plays the priest, constantly improvises during his parts, choosing his accents and voice tones on varying nights. However live theater doesn’t come without disadvantages. Due to the aspect of improvisation, mistakes can occur in the plays. In one Saturday performance there was a slight lighting issue during the song “SOS” where all the lights turned on briefly. Something new happens each night and that is what adds to the charm of live theater.

The actors singing and dancing during a song in Mamma Mia! (Photo Credits: Adams Theater Instagram)

“Experimentation is key to elevating a show from good to great, and improv makes the show more enjoyable for not only the audience but the cast as well,” said Roodbeen.

Theater Club builds connections with new people and mixes of personalities. There are many different aspects within theater that all people can enjoy. Mamma Mia truly displays the comradery of live theater and being able to practice and have it all pay off with the success of the shows.