South Taranaki Star
It’s Abba-solutely on
After two years of having their shows stymied by Covid, a defiant band of South Taranaki actors plans to stage Mamma
Mia in June, no matter what the pandemic brings.
The music of Mamma Mia, which is set on a Greek island, is Abba songs, half of which are big dance scenes, so it’s a big undertaking, Ha¯wera Repertory Society president Ron Scott said.
The feel-good show would help audiences forget their Covid concerns for a while.
‘‘We are hoping it will be a virtual escape to Greece for people, as it will be some time before anyone can go there.’’
A cast of around 40 people have begun rehearsals, and plans for dealing with changing pandemic restrictions are being worked out.
The committee has rejigged its budget, so the show will at least break even, if they have to limit audiences to comply with the red light restrictions, he said.
‘‘We can have 100 patrons, although we hope we will have more. We have a big venue, we can space them out.’’
It will be staged at Ha¯wera’s Memorial Theatre, which seats 337 people, with 11 shows over three weeks.
Extra performances might be added if the show was restricted to audiences of 100, he said.
The society has had a turbulent two years with shows being postponed and rerun.
The first postponed play was God of Carnage, which was having its dress rehearsal the night the 2020 lockdown was announced. Then a 40-strong youth cast had their Bugsy Malone musical postponed for a year, and another play, Love
Begins at 50, ended up playing a few months later than planned.
All three shows had since had their run, but the society missed out on celebrating its 75th jubilee in 2021, and its annual junior drama festival had to be scaled down.
Rehearsals for Mamma Mia have strict Covid protocols, to keep everyone safe, Scott said.
‘‘We are encouraging people to wear masks if you are not singing or moving around on the stage, and everyone is being really good about that.
Everyone is temperature-tested as they arrive, and they scan in, and all have to have a vaccine pass, Scott said.
‘‘We try to keep people spaced out, and we’re opening windows and doors to help with air flow.’’
When the show was running, extra cleaning routines would be in place.
‘‘During the show last year, we were spraying and sanitising all the touch points.’’
Planning is under way to ensure that rehearsing can carry on, even if the cast, which includes people from all around Taranaki, can’t get together for a time.
Extra understudies were being considered in case key characters had to self-isolate.
‘‘We are waiting to see what happens. If we get a massive hit in the community, maybe we will stop rehearsals for a while, but at the moment, we can continue,’’ Scott said.
‘‘All the singers have backing tracks to sing with, so they can practice at home, and dancers will have their moves recorded.
‘‘If we find ourselves in lockdown, people will be able to practise their dance moves at home.’’
The simplest thing would to have not had a production at all, he said, ‘‘but it’s very easy just to ban things.’’
Mamma Mia will run from June 11-25.