Home Musical play The Thunder Theater Company of Desert Vista High School will present the hit musical “Mamma Mia”. | Get out

The Thunder Theater Company of Desert Vista High School will present the hit musical “Mamma Mia”. | Get out

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The pandemic kept them from producing on a large scale for two years, but members of the Thunder Theater Company are making a comeback this weekend with one of the most popular musicals of this century.

Dozens of backstage comedians and crews will perform “Mamma Mia” at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 11, 3:45 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Desert Vista High School, 16440 S. 32nd St., Ahwatukee. Saturday at 1 p.m. is a choir song. Tickets cost $ 10 at the school bookstore or $ 12 at the door.

“They are delighted to be able to perform on stage in front of a live audience once again,” said professor-director Jesse Ploog-Bacik. “We had an incredible turnout at the auditions – over 80 children showed up. It has been great fun to have so much passion and interest in our program now that everyone is back on campus.

And they are thrilled to present the 2008 musical which features songs sung by the iconic ABBA quartet, was a hit on Broadway and led to a blockbuster movie with a top cast including Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep.

“’Mamma Mia’ was a show I knew my current students would love. There were certainly tears of joy when I announced this in May, ”said Ploog-Bacik. “After the cancellation of our last musical in Spring 2020 and not being able to do a full musical last year, I also wanted a show that would easily get kids auditioning to help spark new interest in TTC in of children who had not had an opportunity to get involved yet.

“And, I knew we needed a show that people would want to come and see,” she added. “After the cancellation of the Spring 2020 musical, we lost a lot of money, so it was important to produce a show that would generate public interest and have a name recognized.”

It has also been a challenge, she said, because there is “so much music”.

Fortunately, she says, she has Desert Vista Choir as a partner in the project.

“She worked hard to teach our cast all about music,” Ploog-Basic said, noting that the cast has been rehearsing since August. “Our cast has done a great job learning all the music so far, however. They have totally risen to the challenge of the show.”

The set corresponds to the size of the cast.

“It’s a large outdoor courtyard that will take up our entire stage,” Ploog-Basic said, although parts of the show will also be played in a chamber.

And for anyone who’s seen the movie – which was shot on the tiny Greek island of Skopelos – the company also offers a great, scenic beach backdrop for the beach scenes.

“We’ve been working on the set since early September and the kids are very excited to see it all finally come together for the show,” Ploog-Basic said.

The only part of the production that is not elaborate is the confection.

Since the show took place in 2000, Ploog-Basic said, “It was actually a show where we can use a lot of children’s clothing, so that’s where we started.” However, some parts are also from the Thunder Company closet while Ploog-Basic and the team also purchased the right clothes online for Donna and the Dynamos singing “Super Trouper” and Sophie’s wedding dress.

Beyond the catchy numbers and the romantic and humorous scenario. “Mamma Mia” also has special meaning for Ploog-Basic and the comedians after they were largely deprived of the energy that comes from performing in front of a live audience.

The company ended the last school year with a presentation of a number produced by seniors to a live audience – which Ploog-Basic described as “very exciting -” as well as an improvisation show. There were still no big productions.

But the students were fearless and took part in several virtual shows.

“The kids were amazing too and had virtual club meetings all year round,” Ploog-Basic said. “They figured out how to lead improv games, share their technical theater skills, and continue to build relationships with each other, even online. It was impressive and inspiring to see how hard my students worked through the adversity of the school year.

The schedule changed by the pandemic also came at a financial cost.

“Musicals are expensive, and we want to do it well, but after losing our last musical due to the shutdown in March 2020, we are not in the same financial situation as we have experienced for previous productions. “she said. “We’re working hard to raise funds and pre-sell tickets to help us get through, but it’s really a challenge to make sure we stay afloat.”

But with a popular show and a talented cast, there are plenty of reasons adults might want to come out and see the series – if only to see how the cast matches up with the stars of the fifth highest grossing film of 2008.

“Most of the kids had seen the movie before, but we also had a movie night for the club a few weeks ago where we watched the two ‘Mamma Mia’ movies together,” Ploog-Basic said. “It was a lot of fun and the kids are very excited to play these roles when played by actors they admire.”

In other words, the Thunder Theater Company is ready to undertake what Ploog-Basic admits to be a major undertaking for all involved.

“The set is the biggest we’ve come up with and there are so many costumes with a cast of 60 and everyone having multiple looks throughout the show,” she said. “It’s a lot to deal with, but it’s been great so far and it’s shaping up to be an exciting show.”