Friend­ship is the name of the game for show’s stars

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY -

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

Katte John­ston

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.

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