Mary-Jo Grado

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.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School presents “Rock of Ages”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Big hair, big bands and 80’s music was on full display over the weekend at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

The Villanova Players presented the first weekend of “Rock of Ages,” the high school edition of the show featuring life on the Sunset Strip, efforts to save a famed club and some personal relationships at the same time.

The show has been worked on for much of the 2017-18 school year.

“We had auditions in October and started rehearsing in November,” said Owen Bortolin, who plays “Drew Boley,” one of the lead characters.

Rehearsals have been taking place several times per week but have intensified recently to where they went until 9:30 p.m., added Jessica Amyotte, who plays one of the villains “Hilda Klineman.”

“It’s all for the greater good,” Amyotte said of the late rehearsals. “It’s been really fun.”

Both Bortolin and Amyotte said they enjoy performing in front of the crowds.

“It’s cool to listen to the music our parents listened to compared to what we are listening to,” said Amyotte.

“The show really pleases the older crowd,” Bortolin added.

Bortolin added while acting and singing may not be his career, he still would like to do so on a recreational basis. Amyotte added if she doesn’t perform full-time, she would still like to find ways to stay active in the theatre.

“I really enjoy doing this,” she added.

The show features a wide range of students helping out including on-stage performers, singers, a pit band, backstage crew, set designers, dancers, tech people, a production team and video and graphics students.

“Rock of Ages” continues this weekend in St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School’s Festival Theatre with shows Thursday-Saturday, all at 7 p.m. Tickets for Thursday’s show are $8 while Friday and Saturday ticket prices are $12 for adults and students, $8 for seniors and children 6-12 while children under six are free.