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Passaic Valley Theater to Perform Mamma Mia! Live with Limited Audience May 14-16th

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Carissa Canzona'21

23 April 2021 

The Passaic Valley Theater Department is currently producing their annual Spring Musical. This year, they have chosen Mamma Mia!, a favorite amongst students and families. After the cancellation of last year's Spring Musical, The Little Mermaid due to COVID-19 regulations, the cast and crew have been hard at work to safely produce this year’s show.Mama Mia! rehearsal; photo credit: Ms. Shue

As of now, Mamma Mia! is expected to have an indoor performance with a limited audience, but will also be available for streaming following the live performance. Cast and crew members have been working hard and staying safe to ensure they are able to perform once again. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the show has been postponed to May 14-16th.

Director/Producer Ms. Jennifer Shue and Music Director Mr. Michael DeLuccia are excited to finally be able to produce a live performance. “We are all just happy to be back together working on a musical again,” Mr. DeLuccia stated. “The students seem really excited to be working on the show, and I know that their parents are going to be excited to see it on stage. I know as a staff member we are extremely excited to see live theater again.”

Mama Mia! rehearsal; photo credit:  Ms. ShueMs. Shue says that Mamma Mia was chosen because she has seen how much fun students have while performing it. “As a production staff, we discussed many options for this year. We wanted something that was upbeat and energetic. I've seen the Broadway show and some high school productions and, what always stood out to me, was the energy of the entire cast. They all looked like they were having so much fun.  I knew this was a great choice to uplift everyone's spirits.”  

Mamma Mia! also seemed the perfect fit for the moment. “It also has many roles and a good size ensemble. We have so much talent, I wanted to do my best to highlight them all!" continued Ms. Shue. "We also had to take into consideration that if we could not perform on the stage, what show would translate well in an outdoor space.”

The main cast of Passaic Valley’s production of Mamma Mia! includes:Mama Mia! cast; photo credit: Ms. Shue

Camryn Frey - Donna

Gabby Cielo - Tonya 

Mykayla Lopez - Rosie 

Mallory Cestone - Sophie

Christopher Perez - Sam 

Fabian Gallego - Harry

Dan Dransfield - Bill

Jeremy Irizarry - Sky 

The main cast will be joined on stage by an ensemble including:

Sarah Zampella, Lumi Rogers, Emma Giron, Nick Iacovo, Connor Meletta, Julian Esquivel, Noah Fuchs, Gianna Cavuoto, Paolo Figueroa, Julianna Manzi, Jaylene Nogueira, Chyna Sinclair, Jeneily Ruano, Kristen Schubert, and Hailey Shafer. 

Mama Mia! rehearsal; photo credit:  Ms. ShueChris Perez ‘22 has been involved with PVHS Theater since he performed in Les Miserables in 2013, “I was already very familiar with Mamma Mia! before it was announced as the Spring Musical. It was the first musical I saw on Broadway and I've been listening to ABBA for a long time,” said Perez. “I was really excited to hear that I earned the role of Sam. I worked really hard to make sure I did my best for auditions and callbacks, so it was very rewarding to see my hard work pay off.”

Mykayla Lopez ‘23 feels as though she can relate to her character. “Rosie means a lot to me. Ever since I got cast as Rosie, I’ve been sort of deep-diving to find out more about her and I love her! I think she’s extremely loyal to her friends and knows how to have a good time," Lopez said. "She is very free-spirited and doesn’t like to be held back or weighted down by anything, which I relate to a lot. I also can relate to her on her love of feminism, politics, and cooking.”

Mama Mia! rehearsal; photo credit: Ms. ShueDan Dransfield ‘21 had little knowledge about the musical prior to it being announced. After being cast, however, he feels as though he “can relate to Bill a lot, especially his humorous nature.” Being a senior, this will be Dransfield’s last performance with PV Theater. Reflecting on his high school theater career he said, “Every production has been full of fun, and I can't wait to show it in the Spring Musical.”

Sophomore Mallory Cestone was shocked to learn that she would be playing a leading role as Sophie Sheridan. “I was surprised when I got cast as Sophie, because I am only a sophomore, and this part has a lot of music and scenes to learn. Sophie is a girl who has been trapped on a Greek island her whole life and wants to get out and see the world. She is on a road of self-discovery during this show, and I can definitely relate to that sense of excitement to see the world and search to find oneself," said Cestone. "Sophie is a super energetic character and she is a lot of fun to play. I have been a part of the theatre community at PV since my 8th grade year when I was in the ensemble of The Addams Family. Even before that, I was in the junior shows over the summer during middle school. I try to get involved in every show that I can here at PV.”

Mama Mia! rehearsal; photo credit: Ms. ShueMr. DeLuccia explains the impact of COVID-19 on the production this year, “In terms of the music side of things, COVID has impacted us greatly. Right now, we are rehearsing the music and it is very difficult to sing while wearing a mask. Just like when speaking, it muffles your voice and makes it trickier to breathe when singing," said Mr. DeLuccia. "The rehearsal space is also impacted, because, previously, we were able to rehearse together in the Band Room around a piano. Now, however, we are spread out around the auditorium. That makes it more difficult for the cast to hear each other, and it makes it harder for me to hear what they are singing.”

Despite these challenges, he and Ms. Shue feel as though the cast has done a great job adapting and overcoming this year's added challenges.