Oh Mamma Mia! Brentwood Has Started Musical

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - By: Neve M, Hope ‘23

After an eventful two months of Interhouse competitions, full-school events and much more, first term is almost at an end. To the many busy students around campus, first term seems extremely short, but it is actually the longest. Amid the sunny days of the term, rest assured that Brentwood’s musical for this year, Mamma Mia, got underway and closer to production.

The casting for roles took place over a month ago, and the cast has been working tirelessly since to perfect the play. On audition day, the company gathered in the Killy Theatre, with their voices and dance moves ready. Auditions, in general, are intimidating and nerve-racking, though stakes are even higher in Brentwood’s musical. Auditions determine your place in the show for the rest of the year, until opening night. Although this is a daunting process, Musical Theatre is known as one of the most fun and inclusive arts.

“It’s almost a family, through all those Sunday and first block practices, the students in Musical Theatre become incredibly close. By opening night, we are so connected and genuinely all enjoy each other’s company. I encourage everyone I can to join musical, it is great fun” Serena H, Allard ‘24, accounts about the art. It is no wonder the students collectively bond in this art. Once Sunday practices start, the cast will be seeing a lot of each other - four times a week for long hours. The time, energy and love the company puts into this production is what differentiates it from other arts and makes it truly spectacular.

The casting process might be the hardest aspect of this art for both staff members and students. It is stressful. The adults involved have the difficult task of selecting the correct student for each spot. “The casting process really begins when the curtain comes down on the last night of the spring production. There is an expression in theatre: “having the right horses.” Does one have the performers already in the company who would be a good fit in a number of possible shows that are on the production table for discussion. Then, in September, we hold separate singing, dancing and acting tryouts for students who would like to have a principal role. Anyone in the class is welcome to do this, as we want to be fair to the new students coming into the programme as well as those who have been with us three or four years (we call them Musical Lifers). This year, as there were a large number of main roles to cast for the show, we did not have to disappoint many people, and, in fact, were able to double cast two of the female roles” explains Ms Widenmaier, Director.

Every year, the process of choosing the next show is a unique one. For last year’s musical, Chicago, the choice was simple, and was decided before the end of the previous year. For this year’s production, the choice was set in stone very early on, using Ms Widenmaier’s process. When asked about these proceedings, she gives a detailed account, stating “As every third term rolls around, the company plays in my “Sandbox”. This is a project which allows me to see which shows would really be exciting for the students to be in. They select three shows based on the criteria I give them, write up a promotional document for it and perform a number from the show for the class. In past years, the wish list included shows that did not have an amateur license (three licensing companies in New York “own” and lease out all musicals), but in the Spring of 2021, the show that was the most popular among the student performers, and fit the bill for a great ensemble experience for us, and was available for license was Mamma Mia! So by May, this year, we knew what we were doing.”

Mamma Mia is certainly off to a fantastic start this term, with talented leads and an amazing cast. Brentwood will show its new musical from March 1st to 4th, 2023. It will be an exciting show for all students and staff alike and the Friday March 3 performance will have musical theatre alumni performers from the past 20 years of musicals in the Killy Theatre as part of the audience.

Mamma Mia will soon come to life on the Killy Theatre’s stage with the work of the Brentwood Musical company. Reserve your tickets here.

Neve M, Hope ‘23

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