by Sam Pynes
Beatrice Community Players, Sunday, September 12, 2021.
BCP begins their mainstage season with a bang with the 20-year hit Mamma Mia! The Community Players are branding this season as their “Reboot” season. It is clear from the posters that line the wall as I enter the small but friendly box office that they take their branding seriously. Tyler Rinne designed season posters that are simple and colorful:
BCP has very professional marketing for a small venue, and also a navigable and informative website, which I always very much appreciate. They even have a podcast and a show rating system! I think this is an especially important and thoughtful feature. I imagine it helps reduce the friction of wondering whether a unfamiliar show would be appropriate for younger kids.
A very professional young lady with a nametag showed me to my seat, just before Director Jamie Ulmer took the stage for introductions and substitutions. Stage manager Brandon Clark seamlessly filled in for Hayden Moss as Pepper while Moss is away on guard duty, with Jamie taking over stage manager duties. Clark’s floor slide during his song and dance number got a cheer from the audience.
Not a bad seat in this house, and the audience has a friendly community atmosphere. At one point a man spilled his candy down the tiers of seats which invited a playful snicker from the folks around him. The audience is here to have fun and you could see the cast feed off that positive energy.
You really get the sense that this theater is both a community effort and an expression of the community. Some of the vocal performances were uneven, but with the amount of goodwill in the room the audience was more than willing to forgive some of the solos for sounding like karaoke, especially when considering that there were members of the cast for whom this was their first show!
Tina Rowe (as Sophie Sheridan) and Teri Wilson (as Tanya) gave especially good vocal performances, as did the (sometimes unseen) chorus which must have worked hard to achieve their pleasant and unobtrusive vocal blend.
Kayleigh Schadwinkel-Hickman’s choreography matched the cast’s style and level of skill well, and exhibited a lot of energy especially during the standing curtain call.
Teri Wilson is a standout and looks especially comfortable returning to the role of Tanya which she played in Lincoln Community Playhouse’s 2018 production, which also featured Colleen Bade as Rosie. Bade makes the change to the more dramatically meaty role of Donna Sheridan quite nicely.
The three gentlemen playing the prospective dads, Kurt Conradt (Bill Austin), Dan Wiedel (Sam Carmichael), and Callan Williams (Harry Bright), make their characters funny and distinct, and Teri Vidlak plays Rosie with pizzazz.
The sets are clean and bright, with a pleasant teal accent throughout that does not clash with the sometimes colorful costuming, especially in the curtain call dance reprise.
There is a bed which is clearly not a bed which is a particular peeve of mine, but the practice is as ubiquitous in theater as clearly empty coffee cups in primetime TV.
Head out to Beatrice Community Players: their Reboot Season is worth supporting.
If you go: You can catch Mamma Mia Sept. 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, Fridays/Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased online, or by calling the box office at (402) 228-1801.
Sam Pynes is an actor, writer, and story enthusiast. Mostly harmless. Current Managing Editor of Appearing Locally.
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