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Musical Theatre Association Prepares for Mamma Mia!

By: Katy Dara

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I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay….

The familiar ABBA lyrics floated through the halls of the Performing Arts Center last Wednesday night. A chorus of voices echoed off of the walls to the distinct music. The source? The Musical Theatre Association’s rehearsal for their upcoming production, “Mamma Mia!”

With a little over a week before opening night, the cast was running their full numbers, including choreography, blocking, dialogue, and of course, singing.

They didn’t have a rehearsal space, so they were running numbers in the lobby of the Studio Theater. It’s not an ideal space; the acoustics are echoey and their music was coming from a laptop speaker which was easily overpowered by the singers.

Still, the performers had enough space to dance, perform, and give their all.

Musical Theatre Association (MTA) is a student-run group on campus that puts on a production every semester. They are not part of the UAlbany Theatre Dept., and are open to any students who want to join. The Mamma Mia cast is comprised of a variety of majors and theatre experience.

For freshman biology major Luke Williams, MTA is his first ever experience with theatre.

“My friend convinced me [to audition], he just said I sounded like a decent singer and should try out,” Williams said. “Just go for it, that’s the only thing I can really say.”

Other cast members are theatre majors with plenty of experience, such as Mickey O’Donnell.

“I’ve always been doing theatre and I joined right away my freshman year with the department, and I auditioned for Into the Woods last semester because I didn’t get cast in the department shows,” she said. “I really appreciate the opportunity to keep up with my acting skills and singing especially. It’s a fun place.”

Alexa Passante, a sophomore theatre major who will be playing Rosie in the production, agrees.

“It’s just really fun and a great way to do theatre,” Passante said. “We’re all working really hard to put on the best show we can.”

“Super Trouper,” is an iconic number known by film and musical fans alike. Although they were not on a stage, the cast rehearsed the full number with choreography, harmonies, and acting.

The director, UAlbany junior Jess Nicholson, watched with a smile and wrote down notes.

The club is looking at its biggest year yet, being the first year with a full production both semesters (MTA did “Into The Woods” in the Fall).

Its upcoming production will also be the first first MTA show on UAlbany’s Main Stage, the largest theater with just under 500 seats.

“This will be our first Main Stage performance, which was a goal right away,” said Darius Clinton, the club’s president and show’s head choreographer. “Before I graduated, I wanted to do a show on the Main Stage, and it’s finally happening, and I think it’s going to be our best show yet.”

At the end of rehearsal, around 10:15 p.m., the creative team gathered the cast to give notes.

Stage manager Ryan Buchholz asked the cast, “Is there anyone who is interested in staying after rehearsal on Saturday to help with set construction, from 12 to 11 p.m.?”

Hands shot into the air.

“Yeah, because if you guys don’t come and help, then you won’t have any sets,” the director reminded them.

Every aspect of the show, from directing to design to advertising, is in the hands of students.

Clinton held a stack of posters, urging members to post around campus and “dorm storm.”

The posters were designed by cast member Kendra VanAllen. Buchholz assigned locations to people to post posters advertising the show. The creative team urged people to post about tickets on social media.

When the rehearsal officially ended, the cast broke off to go home, already talking about tomorrow night’s rehearsal, Saturday’s set construction, and problem spots to work on before the show.

“Mamma Mia” will run for three performances on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m., and on Saturday April 6 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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