Surflight’s ‘Mamma Mia’ a Refreshing Escape, Powered by Equity Tension


(Picture Courtesy of Surflight Theater)
There was electrical power in the air on Saturday night at Surflight Theatre’s functionality of “Mamma Mia.”
It was not lightning. As Surflight Manufacturing Inventive Director Steve Steiner explained to the group in his pre-show remarks, it was the best night time weather-smart of the summer months, a area temperature-like 75 and not a fall of rain.
No, the sparks ended up flying onstage, as the “Mamma Mia” cast put on it’s possible the most energetic display I’ve found at Surflight in my three decades of examining the theater’s productions.
Probably it was owing to the group dimensions. Steiner reported it was the major viewers of Surflight’s 2020 time, even nevertheless people have been still securely socially distanced all through the theater’s big leading in Seaside Haven’s Veterans Memorial Park. Maybe it was the materials – “Mamma Mia,” with tunes by ABBA these types of as “Super Trouper,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Recognizing You,” “Money, Dollars, Funds,” “The Winner Can take All,” “Voulez-Vous,” “SOS” and the eponymous “Mamma Mia” is a joyful, helps make-you-feel-like-dancing musical.
It could be that it was a very simple matter of escape. Surflight’s preceding mainstage exhibit, “Cabaret,” set in 1931 Germany with the Nazi Get together rising in toughness, was a mirror graphic of the silently spreading COVID-19 pandemic. “Mamma Mia” created even this reporter, who agrees with a hesitant Donald Trump who last but not least admitted that it is going to “get even worse before it will get far better,” fail to remember about the damn crisis for a pair of hours.
Most of all, although, I imagined of the HBO series “Band of Brothers” when taking in “Mamma Mia.” Of study course, you have to make it Band of Brothers and Sisters in Surflight’s scenario, but this forged and crew seem to be to have entirely jelled.
All of Surflight’s workforce – forged, crew, administration, interns and apprentices – as nicely as local community volunteers and Manahawkin’s Ocean Tents & Occasion Provides worked feverishly final week after Tropical Storm Isaias flattened the theater’s summer residence on Tuesday. By Thursday, the present went on. I talked with ticket sellers and ticket takers on my way into the tent on Saturday evening, and they claimed they were fatigued but, much more importantly, happy. They basically beamed behind their masks.
Furthermore, stated Gail Anderson, Surflight’s affiliate artistic director/creation supervisor/press director/casting director, the cast was “angry.” Actors Fairness Association, which represents additional than 51,000 actors and phase professionals nationwide, and Surflight have parted means after the union refused to approve the theater’s reopening plan.
Fairness hired Dr. David Michaels, former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration below President Barack Obama, to recommend the union how to properly create displays in the spring. Michaels shaped 4 essential principals to guideline theaters.
Just one: “the epidemic will have to be below manage,” with powerful tests, several new cases in the spot, and get in touch with tracing. New Jersey and LBI in shape that criterion. The point out, thanks to the management of Gov. Phil Murphy, like New York, has accomplished a wonderful work in reducing the danger due to the fact the early times of the pandemic. In other words and phrases, New Jersey is not Florida or Texas.
Two: “Individuals who may be infectious can be quickly recognized and isolated.” Surflight has examined its complete 2020 business three times without the need of a solitary good outcome.
3: “The way we audition, rehearse, carry out and stage deal with could want to adjust and the venues we operate in may perhaps want to undertake modifications in get to cut down the risk.” Surflight went outside the house into its significant leading – and it is properly founded the coronavirus doesn’t spread as simply outdoors as it does inside. In addition the performers do not contact just about every other – true kisses are replaced by air kisses hugs are around misses there is no shaking of arms.
4: “Efforts to management COVID-19 publicity must be collaborative, involving Equity customers, companies, the union and and all other people involved in the creation of theatre.” Surflight’s forged and crew agreed to a “bubble” technique, limiting their exposure in the local community and hanging out with only by themselves.
Surflight has received the Ok from Beach Haven borough, the Long Beach Island Wellbeing Division and even Gov. Murphy’s administration. But AE, to my awareness, has permitted only two theater productions in the whole place this summer months, in western Massachusetts, one of them a a single-male exhibit. It is sort of like the situation throughout the state with regards to faculties – can you reopen properly or just preserve most people property?
So, the forged of “Mamma Mia” reportedly has been bombarded with awful e-mail from Fairness members and supporters, contacting them scabs. I believed scabs are people today who take the positions of folks who are on strike, not people today who consider a work when union members simply aren’t doing work. In fact, this reviewer obtained some flack himself after composing about “Cabaret.”
“I study your evaluation for the covid generation of cabaret,” wrote one significantly acerbic “gentleman.” “How irresponsible of you to create a evaluation to entice men and women to go out to the theater throughout this pandemic. … You are an fool and you are not serving to matters.
“Just for pleasurable, I despatched this evaluate to the New Jersey Section of Overall health. … I hope no aged females make your mind up, from your review, to go see the show and then contract COVID and die. Of training course, that would have to believe your assessment was superior ample to basically entice someone to go see this piece of non-Equity crap.”
Hmm, how to get mates and influence people.
So you can have an understanding of why the Surflight actors are offended. And have confidence in me, as a former Surflight actor myself, they’re not doing it for the dollars, in particular when some could have gathered unemployment with the excess $600 a 7 days. They are undertaking it for the exhilaration of executing. That is why they are actors in the initially area.
I do not have to devote considerably time outlining the plot line of “Mamma Mia” mainly because most persons are very likely to have viewed it in advance of or at least viewed the film.
Sophie (the sweet-voiced Alyssa Barton, whom I promptly fell in enjoy with), lives at her mom Donna’s (MaryAnn Carlisle) taverna on a fictional Greek Island. She is about to marry Sky (Steven Gagliano). Just after examining her mother’s diary, she has sent out invites to three males – Bill Austin (Tom Orr), Harry Bright (Peter Clapsis) and Sam Carmichael (Jonathan Van Dyke) – whom she suspects could be her unknown father.
Also invited are Tanya (Sophia Swannell, a lithe dancer) and Rosie (Dwan Hayes), who used to be the backup singers for a lady group named Donna and the Dynamos. Toss in the taverna’s workers, Eddie (Keaton Eckhoff) and Pepper (Kalonjee Gallimore, who stole the clearly show with his acrobatic dance moves), and the scene is established for mayhem and laughs.
Permit me insert other solid associates (and I’d involve the crew as perfectly, but alas, this overview is stretching word depend boundaries), consist of Caroline Moulious, Lexi Baldachino, Willie Beaton II, Bridget Bailey, Kat Berton, Nick Nazzarro, Theresa Regan, Christa Steiner, Ryan Vogt and understudies Sarah Anderson, Francesca Litterio, Jamie Baio and Nile Birch.
I consist of them all mainly because this is, soon after all, a Band of Brothers and Sisters who made me forget about the coronavirus for two several hours, maybe the to start with two awake hours I have put in due to the fact March not imagining about it.
God bless stay theater and this courageous bunch!
rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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