Clark fam­ily star in MAMMA MIA!

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY -

A fa­ther and daugh­ter, yes. A fa­ther and two daugh­ters, yes. But the whole fam­ily! Wow. Now that’s dif­fer­ent.

The Clark fam­ily doesn’t do things by halves. All four mem­bers – Gary, Kirsten, Alexia and Tayla – play an im­por­tant role in Abbey Mu­si­cal Theatre’s up­com­ing pro­duc­tion of MAMMA MIA!, three of them on stage and one back­stage help­ing with cos­tumes.

When Kirsten, an itin­er­ant mu­sic teacher, said ‘‘this is a show we all could do’’ the fam­ily agreed.

They au­di­tioned and, in one of those once in a life­time mo­ments, fa­ther and daugh­ter – Gary and Alexia – play fa­ther and daugh­ter, well al­most, on stage.

To ex­plain the ‘‘well al­most’’, you have to know the story be­hind this smash hit mu­si­cal based on the songs from ABBA.

So­phie (Alexia Clark) is get­ting mar­ried on an idyl­lic Greek is­land and her one wish is to have her ab­sent fa­ther walk her down the aisle. But, at the time of her conception, her mother, Donna, was hav­ing a fling with three dif­fer­ent men.

So So­phie sends them each a wed­ding in­vi­ta­tion in the hopes of learn­ing which one is her dad. Sam Carmichael (Gary) an­swers the in­vi­ta­tion.

Who is So­phie’s dad is never made cer­tain in the spell­bind­ing mu­si­cal but Sam’s the man who stays on. In Gary’s words ‘‘Sam has no other choice. There’s still a spark for Donna.’’

There’s also another rea­son. Sam, the ar­chi­tect, brought Donna to the is­land 20 years ear­lier and scrib­bled the de­sign for her build­ing, The Taverna, on the back of a menu. Now it’s been com­pleted and Donna is very much the en­tre­pre­neur­ial owner.

All four mem­bers of the Clark fam­ily per­form at home. Mu­si­cally that is. When one starts to sing the oth­ers join in. It’s spon­ta­neous com­bus­tion. In var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions they’ve even ap­peared on stage to­gether but this is the show where all four are tak­ing part.

‘‘It’s a show about fam­ily. We’re a fam­ily, we can do that,’’ Kirsten said. ‘‘It’s a show for peo­ple of all ages so it ap­pealed to us. We grew up with ABBA, in fact my first LP was an ABBA record­ing.’’

Alexia re­calls that she and Tayla used to cre­ate their own mu­si­cals. They were about grow­ing up with fre­quent cos­tume changes and al­ways a mu­si­cal mon­tage at the end. Al­ways in­cluded in the mon­tage was the ABBA num­ber Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.

Tayla sees fam­ily as a sense of be­long­ing, be­ing able to be who you are and loved for it.

Mu­sic be­gan for Gary and Kirsten at the Glen Eden Play­house Theatre where they first met. There were shows such as Wiz­ard of Oz and Worzel Gum­midge and then, when Gary was trans­ferred to Blenheim, he per­formed in Lit­tle Shop of Hor­rors as the crazy den­tist.

When it was Alexia and Tayla’s chance to star in Hair­spray for Abbey Mu­si­cal Theatre – Alexia was Penny and Tayla was Tammy – mum and dad worked back­stage. Alexia was Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street and, with Kirsten, played Kate Mon­ster in Av­enue Q. Kirsten was Christ­mas Eve. Tayla per­formed roles in An­nie and Fame at Frey­berg High School.

Now they’re to­gether as a fam­ily in the same pro­duc­tion. ‘‘Our great­est strength is our great­est weak­ness,’’ they ex­plain. When one of them is not part of the fam­ily cir­cle they feel vul­ner­a­ble.

Each of them has a spe­cial mo­ment in MAMMA MIA! when they feel the sense of fam­ily. For Alexia as So­phie it’s Thank You For the Mu­sic. ‘‘Donna tells me ‘I be­gan to sing long be­fore I could talk’ and that’s me.’’

For Tayla it’s Chiq­ui­tita "which is a song about giv­ing sup­port to friends when they’re down,’’ she com­ments.

Gary loves the lines which ‘‘tell your daugh­ter to make the right de­ci­sion. Go with your heart’’ the script says. Now, for Gary, they’re typ­i­cal dad type words.

All four mem­bers agree they have the same in­ter­ests but, within those in­ter­ests, they have var­i­ous strengths. In MAMMA MIA! they hope those strengths will be demon­strated in the mu­sic and char­ac­ters they play in the Abbey Mu­sic Theatre pro­duc­tion.

Three Clark mem­bers per­form on­stage in MAMMA MIA! – Alexia, left, Gary and Tayla.

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