Islanders Collaborate with Harbor Playhouse on ‘Mamma Mia!’

Published: March 08, 2019

Islanders Collaborate with Harbor Playhouse on ‘Mamma Mia!’

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Fans of the chart-topping Swedish pop act ABBA have much to cheer in "Mamma Mia!," a comedic musical co-produced by the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Department of Theatre & Dance and the Harbor Playhouse. The production, which opened March 7, runs through March 31 at the Harbor Playhouse, 1802 N. Chaparral St.

“Mamma Mia!” tells the story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years ago.

The story, written by Catherine Johnson with music by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson, is propelled by the energy of ABBA’s biggest hits, including “Super Trouper,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Thank You for the Music,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and “SOS.”  

The production features a hefty Islander presence, including faculty and students. Faculty members include Department of Theatre & Dance Chair Don Luna as director, Assistant Professor of Theatre Kevin Loeffler as scenic designer, Dance Director Jilissa Cotton as choreographer and Professor of Theatre Philip Johnson as lighting designer. There are 22 students performing in the musical and two student production members: Stage Manager Kim Garza and Assistant Director Corbin Schnuriger.

In addition, the production features five actors and Music Director Michael Perez from the community. The cast was selected after open auditions were held in December. The Harbor Playhouse staff includes Costume Designer Karen Mauch and Sound Designer Josh Goldson.  

“This is our first collaboration with the Harbor Playhouse so we’re very excited about that,” Luna said. “We’ve got a great set and lights, and the costumes are magical.”

For Johnson, working in a new venue presents a new set of lighting challenges.

“In this production, the team has planned how each scene will be staged, and we have worked to take the lights and adjust them to help in the staging of the story,” Johnson said. “It not only includes the stage lights but also the physical elements that add to the setting such as on-set practicals and lighting to give the feel of the location.”

As scenic designer, Loeffler is responsible for creating all the structures, furniture, and flying pieces to create the physical world of the theatrical production. He said working with the Harbor Playhouse team on “Mamma Mia!” has been a rewarding experience.

“The Harbor Playhouse team has been nothing short of professional and welcoming,” Loeffler said. “Their hard work and dedication to their craft has been much appreciated through this entire process.”

A transfer student from San Antonio College, Garza said “Mamma Mia” is her first theatrical production as an Islander. The production represents a prime opportunity to get real-world professional experience in community theater. 

“It’s been such a great experience,” Garza said. “It’s exciting to finally have an audience to see the show that we’ve worked so hard to produce – the one we fell in love with. I’m looking forward to everyone falling in love with the show as well.”

The cast of “Mamma Mia!” includes Jennifer Jones as Donna, Miranda Dean as Rosie, Dr. Alexander Shaw as Tanya, Kristina Gabriela as Sophie, Chad Fontenot as Sam, Hunter J. Allen as Bill, and Tyler Lewis as Harry.

Performances will take place  Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. in March. Call 361-888-SHOW or visit www.harborplayhouse.com for additional show information and to purchase tickets. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for military members, seniors and students with valid ID, and $10 for children.

Luna added that the March 22 performance will feature American Sign Language interpreters.    

“It’s a great way to expand what we do and include more people,” he said.