BACKSTAGE: In Rehearsal for Mamma Mia

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Year II student Ryan blogs about his summer contract with Kelowna Actor’s Studio in their production of Mama Mia.

 

Hello there! My name is Ryan Nicolai, and I am a student at the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Specifically, I’ll be going into my Second Year in September, and I am so eager to get back to my studies and fellow students. But, I couldn’t expect myself to wait a whole four months to start performing again, which is why last year I auditioned for a show! The show is Mamma Mia, and it’s being performed in my home town of Kelowna, BC. After my audition and callbacks last year, I got cast into the Ensemble of the show, and we just recently started our first rehearsals with the Kelowna Actors Studio.

The show has a very strong and diverse cast. Some of the performers are even CCPA graduates! Sidney Cummings will be playing the lead role of Sophia, while Vinny Keats will play her handsome fiancé, Sky. The chorus is also quite large and includes myself as well as Dane Smit, and Megan Greenwood who are also graduates of the College! We are just a few among a cast of 33 performers. And in addition to the performers, there’s also the crew, tech team, and artistic team, which adds another 21 people working on this show for a total of around 54.

From left: Ryan Nicolai, Megan Greenwood, Vinny Keats, Sidney Cummings, and Dane Smit

With a cast and crew so large, we of course need a large space. The Kelowna Actors Studio’s usual dinner theatre space is great, but the space is limited. So as one of the many incredible summer shows that the Studio puts on, it will be performed at the Kelowna Community Theatre. This theatre can seat around 850 people, and has the space needed to create the grandeur needed for this show.

With most Kelowna Actors Studio Shows, the first time learning the music is usually in rehearsals. But this show was different and the director, Randy Leslie, had requested that everyone learn all their music before the first rehearsal. This was aided by one of the music directors, Spencer Bach, playing out all sung parts and recording them for the cast. I bet it took a ton of time to do, but it sure helped me figure things out ahead of time.

On June 5th, we all gathered together in the Kelowna Actors Studio’s rehearsal hall, to get measured for costumes, and then start the process of learning the music for the show. Considering that Mamma Mia is what is known as a jukebox musical, all the songs in the show are written by the band ABBA. This means that nearly every song has a part for the chorus, which provides a lot of work for us ensemble members. Over the course of that first 4-hour rehearsal, and two more 4 or 6 hour rehearsals, we quickly learned the entire soundtrack for the show.


 
Immediately following our three days of music, we started with the end of our show in the first dance rehearsal, and learned the choreography for the Mamma Mia, and Dancing Queen Bows. There are many opportunities where I find myself being able to interact with my fellow actors and be extremely silly, because that’s one of the many great things about this show. I find myself moving to the music with ease, because everything in Mamma Mia is just so exciting to do! The 70s vibes also fit perfectly with summer weather that washes into our rehearsal hall.

Mama Mia runs Aug. 2-11 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Visit the Kelowna Actors Studio Box Office to book your tickets.

I have been performing with the Kelowna Actors Studio for about 5 years at this point, and I know a lot of the performers in this show, but it’s still lovely seeing new faces join the ranks every season. Meeting the people is a great part of what makes the experience. This really shows when we get into our longer choreography rehearsals. The choreographer, Jennifer Davies, always has strong ideas for the choreography, and still manages to find a way to incorporate all the fun moves that make it shine.

So, in these first few weeks we’ve all learned a lot. But there’s only been about four rehearsals. So, I anticipate, that things will get even more exciting as our rehearsals become more frequent. I honestly just can’t wait to see what everyone can do with this show, and how it grows. And I think it’s important that every show can grow and use whatever the cast can provide to the process. If you’re going to be in Kelowna during early August, I’d highly recommend seeing this show. If not, I suppose that reading about it is as close as you’ll get, so I’ll make sure to keep showing off some photos and videos of our work when I can! Catch you again in two weeks for another update on the rehearsal process for Mamma Mia, here at the Kelowna Actors Studio.

For more information on the show, or staff please check out the Actors Studios Website: www.KelownaActorsStudio.com

 

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Ryan Nicolai

Ryan Nicolai

Ryan has played roles in many shows in his hometown of Kelowna, BC, such as Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins, Chicago, Anne of Green Gables, and Spring Awakening, with the Kelowna Actors Studio. When he’s not performing, rehearsing, or studying, Ryan can be found working as a barista in his home town, spending time with friends and family, writing, or playing video games.