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“Dancing Queen” turns seventeen

By Staff | May 9, 2019

JADE HEASLEY/The Luminary   From left, Bradyn Foresman, Laura Ulrich, Caleb Hipple, Breanna Gardner, and Carson Bloom were lead performers in their high school musical production "Mamma Mia!" at Montgomery Area High School.

MONTGOMERY – Montgomery’s high school auditorium was transformed into a Greek island paradise the last weekend of April with three colorful and energetic performances of “Mamma Mia!” The plot follows a mother and daughter facing some unexpected twists and turns before the daughter’s wedding, and the upbeat music of ABBA wove the story together. The show was so popular it broke attendance records and was undoubtedly one of the most fun-filled performances in recent years.

Laura Ulrich, a junior who stars as Donna, said, “I am so proud of my cast and crew. I feel this is the best thing we’ve been able to accomplish over the years, and I really couldn’t be more happy with it.” Coincidentally, she turned seventeen on opening night and performed “Dancing Queen,” a song about a dancing seventeen-year-old girl on a Friday night. During the curtain call, a fellow cast member announced it was her birthday and Virtuoso and the audience sang “Happy Birthday.”

Sophie was a dual-casted role, with junior Breanna Gardner performing the part on Friday and Sunday, and sophomore, Jewels Tawney, who performed on Saturday. Gardner said, “I had so much fun working with Jewels, and I’m very thankful to have that chance to work as a double casting, because it gives me experience for the future when I do it in college.”

Dylan Ring, a junior who plays Sky remarked, “‘Mamma Mia!’brings so much energy to the stage, and for me ‘the sky’ is the limit.”

Caleb Hipple, a senior who played Sam Carmichael, performed with Virtuoso for the last time. He said, “This being my last show, it meant a lot to me to be with this amazing cast and crew. And to sit there in that corner of the stage and watch and listen to that song, ‘Slipping Through My Fingers,’ it feels perfect. And nothing feels more perfect than being on this stage.”

JADE HEASLEY/The Luminary   Virtuoso, Montgomery Area High School's theatre ensemble, performed "Mamma Mia!" a musical filled with singing, dancing, and laughs. Over sixty students participated in the cast with three performances held the last weekend in April. The show was co-directed by faculty members Carina McNear and Jessica Carpenter.

Co-Director, Carina McNear said, “‘Mamma Mia!’ has been one of the most rewarding directing experiences of my career. The kids rose to the occasion and went beyond anything we ever expected could happen. I’m so grateful to them for their work ethic and support of each other. We are blessed to be in a school that encourages and supports the arts.”

According to McNear, Virtuoso has had a banner year, with three astonishing performances in the last five months. “The Crucible” was performed in December and was followed with their “Bach and Rock” vocal recital in March. “The three wildly different shows really highlighted the superb talent of the cast and crew.”

Additional Characters were: Bill Austin Bradyn Foresman, Harry Bright Carson Bloom, Tanya Andrea Cuddeback, Rosie Catalin Torok, Lisa McKenzie Heasley, Ali Addi Heasley, Pepper Wyatt Stugart, Eddie Jake Gearhart, Father Alexandrios Emma Klopp.

Select Girls’ Ensemble: Jaelyn Woods, Avery Jessel, Emily Wolfgang, Ava Peluso, Natalie St. James, Whitney Bolden, Mirabelle Fink, Kara Sanner.

Island Ensemble: Sarah Turner, Lauren Magyar, Lexi Woltz, Cara Bossley, Riley Miller, Geoffrey Short, Breanna McClintock, Gavin Rine, Sloan Wooten, Madeline Bender, Samantha Guyer, Sam Oister, Aden Keister, Kailyn Woltz, Kim Pickering.

Lifters: Mason Schreiber, Devon Deem, Logan Pick, Brayden Strouse, Rhyle Stausbaugh.

Crew members: Co-Directors Carina McNear and Jessica Carpenter, Assistant Director and Choreographer Dakkota Meeker-Deem, Sound/Set Designer James Carpenter, Digital Orchestra – Brian Rehn, Lighting Design – Iris Keister and Zach Ettinger, Assistant Sound Director Maurice Walters, Poster/Shirt Design Brett Hosterman Photography and Design, Stage Managers Emma Klopp, Ava Peluso, Prop and Costume Manager Jaelyn Woods, Social Media Director Dylan Ring, Photography Clara Ulrich, Microphones/Scene Managers Lauren Magyar, Ticket Design Jacob Cuddeback, Set Work/Stage Hands Jake Gearhart, Danielle Boyer, Morgen Tupper, Terez Sewell, Peyton Nash, Haley Johnson, and Gage Mebane, Videography Mike Phillips, Bulletin Boards Jaelyn Woods.