NEW PALESTINE — When Ava Hasecuster was a young girl she repeatedly watched the movie “Mamma Mia” — a 2008 jukebox musical romantic comedy — and fell in love with the music, story line and all-around fun associated with the picture.
“When I was younger I burned through that DVD,” Ava said with a laugh.
Ava, a senior at New Palestine High School, and some of her fellow classmates get to preform the Broadway version of “Mamma Mia” during three separate shows starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12 with a special performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.
The school’s musical director, Stephen Beebe, is overseeing the production, which has a live band. He built the massive set and said the cast includes several seniors who have the talent to pull off the highly entertaining show. The main cast includes Ava, who plays Sophie the daughter in the musical, along with Mason Ebert, who was cast as the lead male role, with Brenna Bastin playing Sophie’s mom, the lead female adult.
For Ava, getting to do the musical is a dream as is working with the cast who she said is incredibly talented and focused.
“Everyone is really excited about this one,” Ava said. “The music in this is great and the storyline is really interesting to follow and is fun — there is not a boring or dull moment.”
Mason credits his family with getting him involved with music and acting when he was younger and said he was thrilled to land the lead role as Sam, one of three men chasing the leading lady.
“It’s different playing and older role,” said Mason who is 17. “It definitely different playing this kind of a role which is different from some of the others roles I’ve had through the years, but I like the challenge of it.”
He likes the fact the cast is performing a known musical and thinks that will be fun for the audience.
“It’s fun being able to represent that, and I’ve seen the movie before so I knew what would be expected of me,” Mason said. “I really enjoy this musical a lot, and with the music coming from ABBA, that’s great.”
For Mason, who has hopes of pursuing music and the arts as a profession, a musical like “Mamma Mia” is a great opportunity for him to work on his singing and acting skills.
“I do want to take this into the future and work in the field of music and theater,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a lot more shows in my future.”
Mason gets to sing the popular “Knowing me Knowing you,” tune, his own song and said its been fun getting to own that.
“I’ve never had that moment by myself in a show before and getting that moment, my song, and act it out in my way is great as a performer,” he said.
For Brenna, who plays Donna, Sophie’s mom in the musical, she would love to continue to be a part of the arts in college, but she plans to be an occupation therapist. She said taking part in the school musical her senior year has been a blast and a great way to express her creativity.
“I’m so excited for this role,” Brenna said. “I took a break from musicals and I came back this year and this has been one of the best experiences I could have ever been a part of in high school … It’s been a fantastic opportunity.”
She said it’s been challenging yet fun doing a musical so many people know about because the movie and Broadway musical are different. So, she’s tried to pull in a little from each as she performs her role.
“I feel like finding ‘Donna’ and her character has been the hardest part for me,” Brenna said. “But, this week as the musical approaches, I feel like I’ve finally find it.”
Brenna noted, she used to have a pretty good case of stage fright, but now thrives on getting the chance to have fun in her moments on stage.
“Getting this role, has really boosted my confidence and I’ve had so much fun growing through this role,” Brenna said. “I’ve really appreciated how much we’ve collaborated, as a cast.”
Beebe noted he’s had a great time working with the 30 students who signed up to be part of the musical and help out on the stage.
“We just want it to be a as good as possible which is why maybe I’ve gone a little overboard with the set and the costumes,” Beebe said. “We want to do something special here … It’s just the little things that will make this memorable and special.”
Beebe only wishes more students would get involved in the music and drama clubs at the school.
“I’ve been doing large cast musicals for years and we’re really trying to get more students involved,” Beebe said. “It’s just hard, even embarrassing that we don’t have more students come out for things like this.”
He noted taking part in musicals and plays and the performing arts is a great way for students to make friends, learn skills and just have a great time.
“We have so many students who are not involved in anything and every year we get kids who have never done this and they tell us, it’s one of the best experiences and one of the greatest things they’ve done in school,” Beebe said.