Now playing is the musical sensation MAMMA MIA! based on the music of Swedish pop band ABBA. This production is the East Coast Regional premiere of the hit musical, which closed on Broadway in September 2015 after a 14-year run.
We sat down with lead actress Michelle Dawson, who plays Donna Sheridan in the upcoming production.
Born and raised in Vermont, Michelle dreamed of being an actress from a young age. “I got bit by the bug early on and didn’t look back!” At the age of 18, she was crowned Miss Vermont in the Miss America pageant and won a most-talented award. Since then, she has appeared in professional productions all over the country as well as on Broadway, where she was in the original casts of Cyrano – The Musical and Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, and the Broadway revival of Showboat.
Michelle is no stranger to MAMMA MIA! having performed in both the Broadway and National Touring productions. On Broadway, she understudied for Donna and Rosie before going on to play first Tanya and later Donna in the National Touring production.
“I toured for over 2.5. years with Mamma Mia! It was an absolute highlight in my career! I had the fortune to play Tanya for a year and Donna for over a year and a half,” said Dawson. “One of my biggest highlights on tour was the 2009 Tony Awards! They did a segment on national touring companies, and I performed ‘Dancing Queen’ as Donna along with the two other Dynamos.” On tour, she was often joined by her 11-year-old son and her husband, Chris Cardona, a professional violinist who has performed in Broadway shows and recorded with a number of well-known artists.
Despite her familiarity with the show and her role as Donna, performing with a new cast and creative team has brought with it a new perspective and unique experience for Michelle. “I came in knowing all the music and the script, and it’s the same type of role, but it’s a director’s whole new vision,” she said. “With a different director comes new insight, things I hadn’t thought about before.”
Director and Choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo’s vision of Mamma Mia! has Michelle and her fellow cast members delving deeper into the characters’ relationships and feelings within the show. This has given Michelle an even stronger connection with her character, which she thinks will resonate with audiences.
“One of the reasons audiences love it so much is because we are real people. Donna’s a mother – she’s a single mother – and she has a lost love, and I think a lot of [people] can relate to that,” she added describing her character. “She’s earthy and she works hard, you know, running the joint and doing it all on her own and not really taking a moment to think about herself and what she wants.”
Enhancing the characters and story of Mamma Mia! is, of course, the iconic music of ABBA. The musical features 22 of ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Take a Chance on Me” and many more. With lovable characters, a relatable story and sensational music, Michelle is sure that Mamma Mia! will be enjoyable for all: “It’s such a fun ride! You’ll laugh, cry, and laugh again!”
MAMMA MIA! will play the following performance schedule: Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $76 on Saturday evenings, $71 all other performances and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at www.EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.