Whenever I was asked if I was attending McMahon’s production of Mamma Mia, my punctual “yup” was always followed by an eager “which weekend are you seeing it?” Prior to investigating for this article, it was easy to reply with a naive “why does it matter?”
But it does, because despite Mamma Mia being McMahon’s only theatrical performance of the year, all four female lead characters are double casted, resulting in two incredibly different shows.
Double-casting is when two actors are both cast as the same role and take turns playing the role on alternating performances. Unlike an understudy, both people are able to perform the role regardless of the absence of one.
Handed an incredibly talented group of girls during auditions back in November, it was no question as to why Frank Arcari felt inclined to put together two completely different casts of female leads for this year’s big production of Mamma Mia. This is the sole reason the four female lead characters are double casted.
“I had a talented enough group of girls that I could literally pick two, three, even four casts if I wanted to. And they could all pull it off, but in different ways,” said Arcari.
Being a female heavy show, only the lead female characters are double casted, and they’re able to come together to bring their character to life; bouncing ideas of a scenes execution and working together reveals its benefits.
“You get ideas from each other…Like when we start blocking the scenes, we did it very differently but we’ll be like ‘Oh I like that’ー’I like that.’ And another time, I took one of Lauren’s dance moves and she took one of mine, and it worked out really well,” said Victoria Papadopoulos (‘21), who plays Sophie Sheridan alongside her double cast Lauren Kelly (‘21).
Under other circumstances, being a double cast for someone entails you help one other in a way no one else in the cast would be able to.
“For me, I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal cause I was at a study tour for CGS. So it was a relief that someone else was my part and could help teach me everything I missed,” said senior Olivia Lapine who plays Rosie alongside her double cast senior Anastacia Negron.
While being a blessing, a double cast also comes with its difficulties of an unsaid competitiveness and insecurities of being compared to one another.
When asked about some of these difficulties with her Rosie double cast Olivia Lapine, Negron responded with, “definitely competition and the idea that you wanna be better than your double cast.”
However, Arcari anticipated this. According to him, everyone except the Sophie and Donna's were unaware of which cast they were going to be apart of. As a result, the pairs of double casts needed to understand they had to perform to their best and that was the most important thing.
“They found out three weeks before the show. They couldn’t form up in teams, couldn’t be competitive to be in ‘this cast or that’. They just have to get along and learn from one another and perform their best,” says Arcari.
Regardless of their differences, it was important for each performer to understand that they were on that stage as a result of their love for theater, and less about being better than the other.
“It all works out once you come to terms with the idea that you are two different people and you play the role differently. We realized that we shouldn’t be competitive, but instead we should want to push each other to be the best,” continued Negron.
The Cast that opened last week on March 8 and 9 at 7:30, and will perform again on March 16 for the matinee at 3:00 includes…
The Cast that performed this past matinee March 9 at 3:00 and will continue on this upcoming weekend for performances on March 15 and 16 at 7:30 include…
“We do the shows so differently, like when you come it’s two completely different shows. It’s so exciting, and that’s one of my favorite parts of this show: nobody plays the part the same. Even the people who are single casted, they do it differently,” said Lauren Kelly.
If you’re on the edge of whether or not to see both casts, definitely go! With a different dynamic each time, you’re sure to have a blast every time!