Ann Marie Brunet

Villanova gearing up for production of “Mamma Mia!”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The actors, singers and backstage crew at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School are getting ready for their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!”

Opening night is Feb. 22 with six performances scheduled overall. Regan White, a Grade 11 student from Amherstburg who plays “Donna” in the show, said they are excited.

“We’ve been working really hard for a few months,” said White. “It’s going to be a great show.”

St. Thomas of Villanova will soon present “Mamma Mia!” with (from left) Alexa Monacco, Regan White and Nicole Gyorgi part of the show.

White noted they have been working since last fall on their dancing, acting and singing, the latter involving five vocal instructors. She plays in a lead role and said that there is a lot of responsibility but that is something she enjoys.

“It’s fun,” said White. “It’s a lot of work, though.”

Auditions were last October, she added, and that she sought out that role. The role of “Donna” is one that a lot of people could relate to, White added.

This isn’t the first time White has been in a lead role with a Villanova production as she was one of the stars of “We Will Rock You” and “Rock of Ages” in previous years. White also performs musical theatre with Cardinal Music Productions in Windsor.

“I’d like to do this professionally,” she said. “I’d like to do this on Broadway.”

White added the cast and crew are grateful to the teachers assisting on “Mamma Mia!” including director Mary Jo Grado and musical director Ann Marie Brunet.

“All of the teachers are really hard at work and we really want to thank them for that,” said White.

Players in the upcoming St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School production of “Mamma Mia!” rehearse a scene.

Justin Bobbie plays “Sam” and also said “it’s really exciting” especially with opening night closing in.

“It’s so exciting being a lead. It’s good to have so many responsibilities. It makes you feel like you are doing something,” said Bobbie. “It’s a lot of work. I almost feel like I’m 50, I get tired so fast.”

Bobbie said he is confident in his own abilities and that of his cast mates.

“When those lights hit you, there’s nothing else like it,” he said.

Bobbie has been a lead before but pointed out that he doesn’t have as much on his plate as previous years. He added he feels he is fully prepared for the show.

As for his future plans, Bobbie said he is keeping his options open.

“Honestly, guys like me are a dime a dozen,” he said, adding “it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Players in the upcoming St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School production of “Mamma Mia!” rehearse a scene.

Grado said there are about 75-80 students in total that are involved with the production of “Mamma Mia!” including about 57 on stage.

“It takes this amount of kids to put on a show like this,” she said. “The dedication level is high and it’s a demanding show.”

Andy Paling’s construction class also helps to literally put the show together as they build sets. It was Paling who decided to present “Mamma Mia!” this year as he is retiring after spending 30 years teaching at Villanova.

“This really is his baby,” said Grado. “We decided, as his retirement gift, that he got to pick the last show of his career.”

Shows are Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., Feb. 24 at 1 p.m., and there are also 7 p.m. shows Feb. 28, March 1 and March 2. Tickets are $15 for adults and students, $10 for seniors and children 6-12 and free for children under six, except for Feb. 24 and Feb. 28 when all seats are $10. They are available at the school or at the door the night of the show.

Students at St. Thomas of Villanova put talents on display

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students from St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School took to the stage late last week to showcase the various talents they have.

There was an evening performance last Thursday where 16 acts went on stage in the school’s festival theatre. Judges pared the number of performers down to a list of ten for a daytime performance Friday.

Celine LaBrecque shows her rhythmic gymnastics skills during St. Thomas of Villanova’s talent show.

Celine LaBrecque shows her rhythmic gymnastics skills during St. Thomas of Villanova’s talent show.

Music teacher Ann Marie Brunet said the students auditioned to be part of the show. Once all is said and done, the annual talent show awarded a $100 first prize (won by Nick Unis and Lucas Rivard), a $75 second prize (won by Alexia Mathews) and a $50 third prize (won by Shawn Evon) with the “fan favourite” award also being $50. The latter was won by dancers Julian Alfuente, Gabe Madla and Nathan Serre.

“We do this every year. It helps to showcase their many talents the kids have here at the school,” said Brunet.

Brunet pointed out the acts were diverse in nature, from vocal performances to instrumental acts as well as dance and gymnastics. It is something the students always look forward to.

“They love it,” she said. “It gives them a chance to shine and be artistic.”

“It was amazing,” Mackenzie Caradonna said of the experience. “I love being on stage and I love being a part of the talent show.”

Regan White sings during St. Thomas of Villanova’s talent show last Thursday night.

Regan White sings during St. Thomas of Villanova’s talent show last Thursday night.

Caradonna performed the song “Different,” a song that she wrote herself when she was 13-years-old. She said it was inspired by her life and the tough times she has gone through.

“I really wanted to express that you can get through (tough times),” she said.

Nick Unis and Lucas Rivard had a drum battle. The pair closed last Thursday evening’s show with a rousing performance. Both said they have been playing the drums for approximately five years.

Regan White said she also enjoyed being a part of the talent show, and that she performs in a variety of places.

“I’m always performing,” said White. “I perform all the time.”

Mackenzie Caradonna sings “Different” as part of the show. It is a song that Caradonna wrote herself.

Mackenzie Caradonna sings “Different” as part of the show. It is a song that Caradonna wrote herself.

Performing at Villanova is always special for her, she said.

“I love performing at my school,” she said. “It’s so much fun.”

White added: “Performing is my life. I just love it.” She said she is thinking about doing it as a career, and credits teachers Brunet and Mary Jo Grado for helping to pull the talent show together.

“We’re all so grateful for that.”