Here I Go Again: Lawrence Central spring musical presents ‘Mamma Mia!”


Lawrence Central High School’s theater will come alive with the iconic music of ABBA during four performances of the hit musical “Mamma Mia!” set for April 21-23.

Before a recent rehearsal, high school students gathered on stage, backstage, and in the orchestra pit, talking, laughing, dancing and playing on their phones. Director Kathleen Horrigan herded the group onto the stage and patiently led them through her vision for the closing wedding scene. She had to remind a couple of students to put away their phones, but for the most part, the young actors paid attention and didn’t talk — much — to their neighbors.

Horrigan said the theater department decided on “Mamma Mia!” this year because it’s a fun play, and they have students with the talent to handle the various roles. The music also was a big draw for her and for the students.

“A lot of times I invite the students and say, ‘What do you want to do? And they give me ideas,” Horrigan said. “And they were singing some ABBA songs. And I thought, ‘OK, let’s try it this time.’”

Director Kathleen Horrigan talks to students during a rehearsal. (Photo by Adam Sief)

Even after weeks of rehearsals, the lead characters have maintained their enthusiasm for the play and their roles. Some of the young actors playing main characters are seniors Anna Seitz as Donna, Alicia Barnes as Sophie, Brynna Hardiman as Rosie and Nora Krug as Tonya; and juniors Eduardo Palapa as Bill, and David Saunders as Sam. They took a break from rehearsals to talk about their characters, and what they enjoy about the musical.

Hardiman said Rosie is known as the comedic relief in the play.

“She’s really silly and I relate to her a lot as a character,” Hardiman said. “So, whenever we’re in rehearsal and stuff, it’s very easy for me to kind of get in the zone because she’s very down to earth. She’s really blunt. And she’s just also very funny, and so I’ve really enjoyed playing her.”

Barnes said she always has fun doing any kind of theater, but this show is particularly enjoyable.

“It’s just like super lighthearted and, you know, it has serious and heartfelt moments, but it’s just so summery and fun,” she said. “And it’s a good way to end the school year. And I also was going to say that, for me personally, this is my first time being like a lead lead. I’ve been supporting characters and stuff before and ensemble, but this is my first time being one of the leads, so it’s really fun.”

Other actors are simply enjoying the process of theater.

“I enjoyed like, the new connections I’ve made with people,” Saunders said. “Everyone here is so great. They’re also fun. And we all are enjoying ourselves, you know?”

Krug said this is her first theater experience.

“And I was really nervous about it. And I didn’t know how to let it go,” she said. “But I’ve been having a lot of fun, and I think it’s just a good way to put myself out there for senior year.”

The music also is a huge hit with the actors. They all had their favorites, from the show’s title song to “Waterloo” to “I Do I Do I Do.”:

There are a couple more serious songs in the play, and Palapa said one of those is his favorite.

“OK, so I am a huge sucker for like sob stories,” he said. “And so my favorite song would have to be ‘The Winner Takes It All’ just because of how sad it is. It never fails to make me cry.”

And for Seitz, this is the perfect musical to end her high school career.

“I’ve been doing theater for a really long time since I was really young,’ she said. “And it’s kind of just special because ‘Mamma Mia!’ is really close with my — that’s my grandma’s favorite show; my family is obsessed with the movie; they’re obsessed with the musical; it’s one of the first musicals I ever saw with my grandma. So, it’s really special.”

The Lawrence Central production of “Mamma Mia!” will have four performances featuring a cast of 45 students and a full pit orchestra. Shows are set for 7 p.m. April 21 and 22; and 2:30 p.m. April 22 and 23. For ticket information, go to

From left are student actors Eduardo Palapa, Brynna Hardiman, David Saunders, Anna Seitz, Michael Washington, Alicia Barnes, Luke Boose and Nora Krog. (Photos by Adam Sief)

The origins of “Mamma Mia!” the musical

Many people know the musical “Mamma Mia!” is based on the music by the 1970s Swedish pop band ABBA, but what are its origins?

According to Music Theatre International, it all started with theater producer Judy Craymer, who saw a musical theater production of “Chess,” with music written by ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. She realized the group’s music worked well for theater.

After getting somewhat lukewarm permission from the band members to move forward with her idea, Craymer recruited Catherine Johnson to write the play, which debuted in London in 1999, and has been a hit ever since. The film adaptation was released in 2008, starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Bronson, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters.