Family effort helps bring ‘Mamma Mia!’ to Flynn Center

Photo by Scooter MacMillan
The Friedrichsens of Shelburne – from left, Peter, Emily and Heather – have been living lives that are filled with all things “Mamma Mia!” for the past few weeks.

Staff Reporter

The musical may be “Mamma Mia!” but for at least one Shelburne family, it’s mamma, papa and daughter.

For the Friedrichsens – Heather, Peter and Emily – the Lyric Theatre’s production of “Mamma Mia!” is a family affair.

Emily, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, plays the lead – Sophie Sheridan. Heather is part of the promotions team. Peter is part of the crew building the sets – sets which they can’t say much about.

The cast and crew have been sworn to secrecy so that all elements of the production will be a surprise for audiences. From the barely suppressed smiles and grins of the Friedrichsens, the crowds apparent-ly will be wowed.

And it’s clear that there will be crowds. Before the show even opens on April 11 for a run that extends for six performances through April 14, the show is a hit. As of Tuesday morning, Heather said, there were less than 1,200 tickets left for the whole run. With the Flynn Center MainStage, where the show is being staged, having a little less than 1,400 seats, that means the show is already at 85 percent of capacity.

Photo by Bruce Cowan
Set designer Cheri Forsythe, grew up in Shelburne and her parents still live there. Here she paints sets for the upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” opening April 11 at the Flynn Center.

The cast of “Mamma Mia!” also includes Joplin James and Stephen Kendall (singing ensemble) of Shel-burne.

“Lyric is going through a lot of growth and change,” said Heather. “It’s an exciting time to be involved with Lyric Theatre.”

This is the first show that the theatre has been able to build its sets and set them up in one space, a new building they’ve purchased on Green Tree Drive in South Burlington.

Production supervisor Margaret Welch said that there’s lots of excitement about this production, which may be heightened by the fact that Lyric Theatre is one of the first community theaters to get the rights to produce the popular musical that was adapted into a hit movie with Meryl Streep.

“We’re having a good time. We really enjoy spending time together,” Heather said. Emily laughed and said, “Together separately.”

“Yeah, the three minutes we’re together every week,” Heather agreed.

“The choreography is amazing,” said Emily, but she wouldn’t say anything more about it.

Her parents couldn’t give the secret away because they haven’t seen any of the rehearsals. Peter has been working on sets in another part of the building, and Emily has banned her mother from seeing any of the show before it opens. Unlike so many of Emily’s previous shows where Heather was help-ing sew costumes, this time she’s devoting all her volunteer efforts to promotions. And Emily wants “Mamma Mia!” to be as big a surprise for her mom as it will be for the rest of the audience.

The musical will be much like a rock concert, said the Friedrichsens, which isn’t giving much away since it features the music of ABBA, including such hits as “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “The Winner Takes All.”

It’s the story of a young woman (Sophie Sheridan) who tries to identify her biological father by inviting the three men who it could possibly be to her wedding, unbeknownst to her mother (Donna Sheridan, played by Serena Magnan O’Connell). The musical is set on a beautiful Greek island.

“Mamma Mia!” opened in London in 1999 and on Broadway in 2001, where it became the eighth long-est running show on Broadway and has been seen by over 60 million people around the world.

The show will run at 7 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday (April 11-13), at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (April 12 and 13), and at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 14 at the Flynn Center MainStage. The 1 p.m. Saturday, April 13, performance will be audio described for the blind or visually impaired.

For tickets call 802-863-5966 or visit

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