Mix a little high school energy with the music of ABBA and you’ve got the makings of an entertaining evening out. A rather large cast and crew at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School in LaSalle is ready to stage its production of the Tony Award-winning musical Mamma Mia!, opening this weekend.

“Mamma Mia! Is an fun musical with exciting female characters and memorable songs,” says drama teacher and show director Mary-Jo Grado. “Since there was a sequel released in 2018, the teachers here felt it was an excellent time to bring back the original. Since a majority of the cast grew up with the first movie, it’s fun to watch them dance and sing to the songs of ABBA.”

Grado also pointed out that the show was also selected as a parting gift to teacher Andy Paling, who is retiring this year. Paling, who has been a huge part of the success of the school’s plays for the last seven years, selected Mamma Mia! as his last production.

The show is a massive production, involving 65 cast members, six members of a backstage crew, nine tech members and one student director. Additionally, Grado is excited to see the work of one of her students who cut, sewed and sequined the three Dancing Queen outfits and bedazzled the additional three men’s outfits.

The choreography for the show was created under the direction of two former students and a current one. Together they choreographed more than 15 musical sequences. Additionally, six students have taken seats with the orchestra for the show.

“Musical theatre is loved by so many students in our community and I want our students to have the same experiences and opportunities given to me in high school,” Grado adds. “A show of this magnitude allows students make new friends, create new memories and showcase their talents. Mamma Mia is pure entertainment for all those who attend.”

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School will host six performances over the next two weekends. It opens on Friday (Feb. 22) at 7pm with additional shows on Sat. Feb. 23 at 7pm, Sun. Feb. 24 at 1pm, Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7pm, Friday, March 1 at 7pm and Saturday, March 7 at 7pm.

Tickets are $15 for adults and students, $10 for children and seniors, with children under 6 admitted for free. The Sunday matinee and Thursday evening are $10 for all tickets. The school is located at 2800 North Townline Road in LaSalle. For more information, call 519-734-6444.

Mamma Mia

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