Julia Smith and Leora McCaughey rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Julia Smith and Leora McCaughey rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Singing, dancing and a lot of ABBA

Nikiski Theater puts on jukebox musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

The vistas and styles of Greece and, perhaps even more strikingly, the songs of ABBA are coming to life on Nikiski Middle/High School’s stage as Nikiski Bulldog Theater readies for “Mamma Mia!”

Director Carla Jenness said Tuesday that the show is “more grown-up” than other productions that have been put on in Nikiski, like last year’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The music dominates the conversation. Jenness said there’s “a ton” of songs that require a lot of the actors both vocally and in choreography.

“Just because you can sing along to the radio doesn’t mean you can do those harmonies,” she said.

The show follows Leora McCaughey as Donna and Julia Smith as her daughter Sophie as they navigate their own relationship in the days leading up to Sophie’s wedding to Sky, played by Oliver Parrish.

Putting a twist on the whole affair is the arrival of three men who all have personal history with Donna — the sort of history that leads them all to the belief that they might be Sophie’s father. Kyler Allen plays Sam, Kincaid Jenness plays Bill and Jackson Hooper plays Harry.

The cast is rounded out by Donna’s friends, Oshie Broussard’s Tanya and Maggie Grenier’s Rosie.

McCaughey described Donna as a career favorite character, citing her spunky attitude. She said that the show features fun dynamics borne of real friendships. It’s also her last show, as a soon-graduating senior. She said she’ll cry when it ends. And a few times before that as well.

Allen said Sam has “main character syndrome, not main character energy.” He said he didn’t watch “Mamma Mia!” until more recently than many of his castmates, but that he’s known and loved its songs for much longer.

“I’m being able to sing ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You,’” he said. “That’s one of my favorite ABBA songs. I love that I get to sing that song. I love that we get to do ‘Voulez-Vous’ and ‘Super Trouper.’”

Though the songs are a massive draw, Allen said they make for a tremendous challenge in constantly moving from song to song, while also keeping up with the plot of the show.

Smith said that the show’s second act, especially, is tremendously demanding — it kicks off with “Under Attack,” which Parrish described as “vocally, the most difficult song in the whole show.”

The pair, who play the soon-to-be-wedded Sophie and Sky, said that they’re dating when they’re out of character. That makes creating chemistry with one another easy but offers an interesting challenge in acting through conflict and friction.

Parrish said the fights they get into in the show don’t directly graft onto their own experiences, however.

“We have to fight about her having three dads,” he said.

Parrish played Patrick Star in Nikiski’s last show, said Sky represents a meaningful sense of progression for himself as an actor because he gets to work through more emotional depth.

Broussard said the show has a fun sense of humor — and as Tanya she gets a great song and dance number in “Does Your Mother Know.”

“Tanya has, for a high school show, the most provocative lines,” she said. “Those are the most fun.”

Broussard said that “Mamma Mia!” has always been a personal favorite, and that it’s been thrilling to see the costumes and sets come together — the biggest set for a high school production that she’s seen.

McCaughey echoed that sentiment, saying the opportunity to put on “Mamma Mia!” and play a role in it is something she’s “incredibly thankful” for.

Broussard called “Mamma Mia!” a showcase of what Nikiski Bulldog Theater is capable of, a show with emotional maturity, incredible design and local talent.

Because “Mamma Mia!” is rooted in familiar and beloved songs, Jenness said the show is accessible.

“It’s not a big thinker,” she said. “It’s pure fun. There’s sweet moments and there’s funny moments; the costumes are gorgeous — it’s a fun night out.”

The show is also, Broussard said, a showcase of some of the artistry that could be impacted by budget issues in the state — theater techs are among the positions set to be eliminated in a budget passed on Monday by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Board of Education as they face a $13.7 million deficit.

“We wouldn’t be able to do our shows without our tech people and unfortunately, with budget cuts, we might lose those people,” she said. “We need our education funded.”

“Mamma Mia,” Jenness said, features talented kids, a beautiful set and amazing singing. It’s playing at Nikiski Middle/High School for two weekends, April 26-27 and May 3-4. All showings are at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased online through a link at “Nikiski Bulldog Theater” on Facebook.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Kyler Allen and Leora McCaughey rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kyler Allen and Leora McCaughey rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Julia Smith and Kyler Allen rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Julia Smith and Kyler Allen rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kyler Allen rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kyler Allen rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oshie Broussard, right, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oshie Broussard, right, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oliver Parrish, center, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oliver Parrish, center, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oshie Broussard, right, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Oshie Broussard, right, and the cast of Nikiski Bulldog Theater’s “Mamma Mia” rehearse at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey and Kyler Allen rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey and Kyler Allen rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Maggie Grenier rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Maggie Grenier rehearses “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kincaid Jenness and Maggie Grenier rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kincaid Jenness and Maggie Grenier rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Leora McCaughey, Maggie Grenier and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Mamma Mia” at Nikiski Middle/High School in Nikiski, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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