Friendship is the name of the game for show’s stars
The leading ladies of MAMMA MIA! are a class act but there’s nothing make-believe about their bond.
‘‘Every girl needs friends like these two,’’ enthuses Val Andrew, who stars in the lead role of Donna Sheridan alongside Amy Hunt and Katte Johnson.
The experienced performers play a tight-knit trio but their special connection also extends offstage.
‘‘Basically we are three very close friends playing three very close friends!’’ laughs Val.
All agree that the rapport established onstage makes their offstage relationship so much stronger.
They describe each other in a strikingly similar way, too – warmhearted, humorous, talented, modest, hard-working and family oriented are the key adjectives that crop up with the ever on key women.
The friends first met in 2001 during a recall audition for A Slice of Saturday Night. A mutual love of theatre, mixed with laughter and a similar sense of humour, saw them click straight away.
‘‘I had been in the theatre since childhood and it was Val and Katte’s first Palmerston North show. We all got in and friendship blossomed,’’ says Amy.
At least two of the three have gone on to do numerous shows together, including Les Miserables, Annie, Rocky Horror, Cabaret, Chess and Hairspray.
‘‘This one is particularly special due to the nature of the roles,’’ says Val.
Katte adds that the relationships in the show are integral to the storyline.
‘‘The relationships between the three women have to be believable and real. We don’t need to act them – they exist already,’’ she says.
And as soon as the trio discovered they’d got them, they ran up to each other and screamed with delight – much like their meeting in the show.
Their real-life friendship adds to how their characters bounce off of each other. So there’s no need for anyone to send out an ‘SOS’.
‘‘Often we don’t need to say ‘help’ – the others just know,’’ says Val. Amy agrees.
‘‘My friendship with these girls is very important. The connection we have has outlasted distance, obstacles and got me through many a tough time,’’ she says.
All three leads can relate to their characters in the show which, through the storytelling magic of ABBA, follows feisty, independent Donna and her bride-to-be daughter, Sophie, who wants romance, babies and a big white wedding. She also wants her father to give her away – if only her mother could tell her who he is.
‘‘I am quite like Donna in a lot of ways. I having amazing friends and burst into song a lot. I am a Mum to a daughter – but I know who her Dad is!’’ says Val.
Amy enjoys the life-embracing nature of her character, Tanya, and shares her love of the limelight.
For Katte, Rosie’s core attributes align with her own.
‘‘She is hilarious, very earthy and protective of her friends. At the same time she has vulnerability and a nurturing side,’’ she says.
But irrespective of their differences onstage and similarities off of it, all three girls can’t wait to strut their stuff in six inch heels. And they hope the audience will join them.
‘‘As a group of friends, I really want the audience to see a strong bond between the women and to see the friendship as real, not something put on for stage. The biggest wish is that the audience go on a journey with us and go away feeling richer for that journey,’’ says Katte.
The relationships between the three women have to be believable and real. We don’t need to act them – they exist already
Three friends in real life, three close friends inMAMMAMIA! (from left) Val Andrew (Donna), Katte Johnston (Rosie) and Amy Hunt (Tanya). Val, Katte and Amy play the three adult female leads.