STAGES St. Louis is currently home to an epic rendition of “Mamma Mia!” so we chatted with some of the cast to find out what makes this version of a timeless classic such a fabulously groovy time.
The musical follows Sophie and her mother Donna as they prepare for Sophie’s wedding. Sophie, desperate to have her father — whom she’s never met, nor knows who he is — walk her down the aisle, invites three men who could be her father to attend, much to Donna’s surprise. Mayhem — and plenty of dancing — unfolds.
David Sajewich, who grew up in St. Louis and is returning for his third year with STAGES, portrays Sophie’s fiancé, Sky.
“I bring him to life by taking my shirt off; it’s that kind of role,” he says. “‘Mamma Mia!’ centers around a very sweet mother-daughter relationship, which is instantly relatable to so many people. Throw in ABBA music and a healthy dose of half-naked men and you’ve got a surefire hit! I just love all of the crazy production numbers, the dancing is spectacular and the lighting and set design, as always, are so great.”
Steve Isom, a STAGES regular who plays Bill Austin, one of Sophie’s possible dads, is originally from the San Francisco Bay area but has lived in St. Louis for 24 years. During that time, he’s played everything from chorus to leading roles at STAGES.
“Bill is from Australia, so a big part of my work has been working on dialect,” he says. “And it’s not an easy one, mate! The music in this show is infectious. This truly is a show for all ages, and there will be dancing in the aisles. I have no doubt.”
David Schmittou, who grew up in central Missouri but has lived in New York City for the past 25 years, plays Harry Bright, one of the possible dads. This STAGES regular for nearly two decades says, “Coming back to work at STAGES is like coming back to work with family, at this point.”
Schmittou calls the musical “optimism in a bottle.”
“It’s a fun, bouncy, joyous two hours in the theater, and it’s filled with all of those classic ABBA songs,” he says. “Come see this show and dance your booty off.”
Gregg Goodbrod, who lives in Woodstock, New York, is making his STAGES debut this year, but he has many Broadway and off-Broadway accolades. Goodbrod plays Sam, another of Sophie’s potential fathers.
“I try to have a relationship with Donna where we really love each other, but always end up fighting until one backs down — you know, a really healthy relationship,” he says.
One of the costumes, gorgeously designed by STAGES’ Resident Costume Designer Brad Musgrove, Goodbrod gets to wear is a true showstopper.
“I am in love with the spandex superhero outfit I get to wear in the show,” he explains, adding his favorite part of the show is the finale. “You’ll see why.”
STAGES newcomer Frankie Thams, who hails from Michigan, plays the overly confident “frat boy” named Eddie.
“Eddie is always looking to catch the hottest lady and fool around on the island with his best buddy Pepper,” Thams says. “Having been around many over-the-top frat stars in my day, I have great insight into the everyday mannerisms of these types of guys.”
Thams says “Mamma Mia!” is truly the ultimate feel good musical.
“The music is infectious, the dancing is electric and the show as a whole is simply a good time,” he says. “I think it appeals to a broad audience simply because you can’t walk out of the show without a smile on your face.”
Patrick Graver, who has returned from New York City for his third STAGES production, portrays Jack Daniels, a member of the ensemble.
“Jack loves to party and have a good time dancing with his friends,” Graver says. “Playing the role is like reliving my college days. This show is like a huge celebration/party, and who doesn’t love celebrating? It’s filled with highly popular songs that people of all ages will recognize. It also has some endearing themes throughout that families can relate to.”
Graver has a hard time choosing his favorite part of the show because it’s “just so darn fun,” but he loves grooving to “Voulez-Vous.”
“The energy in this number is so infectious,” he says. “We all get to dance like we’re at a club, and it’s a blast!”
St. Louis native Kyle Pollak, who currently lives in New York, made his STAGES debut in high school and now portrays Pepper.
“[He’s] the ‘boy’ referred to endlessly by Donna’s friend and fellow Dynamo, Tanya, in the ‘Does Your Mother Know’ number,” Pollak says. “Having gone through college and tagging along to bars with girlfriends of mine, it’s not too hard to draw from some of these experiences of stereotypical frat boy-esque, overly confident men I’ve seen countless times. That stereotype, although very far from myself, can sometimes be easy to draw from.”
Pollak says the musical is a celebration of all ages and types. “It reminds us to live in the moment and treasure each and every person in our lives,” he says.
Although Pollak loves all of the music in the show, his favorite part of the show is when Corinne Melançon, who plays Donna, sings “Slipping Through My Fingers” about Sophie. “It makes me tear up every time,” he says. (Us too, Kyle, us too.)
“Mamma Mia!” is showing now through Aug. 19 at STAGES St. Louis. Tickets are selling out fast, so get yours here before they’re sold out.