Put on your dancing shoes and boogie in the aisles at Arizona Onstage Productions’ rendition of “Mamma Mia!”
The musical, packed with 30 of ABBA’s hits, may be just what is needed to brighten our blues.
Debbie Runge takes on the duel role of director and choreographer.
Runge is no stranger to multitasking in production: she’s been involved with theater for more than 30 years, and most in community theater wear many hats.
“Mamma Mia” is a musical Runge knows: she’s seen the original Broadway production twice.
“The first time I saw the show was when I was seven months pregnant and I remember trying to dance in the aisles and that was not easy,” Runge recalls with a laugh.
She’s not going to get all fancy with this production, she says.
“I have remained with the integrity of the script,” Runge says. But she added a few touches of her own, such as working in the ensemble more, and switching a few locations of scenes.
“Some of it was for practical purposes and others were for an artistic choice,” Runge says.
She is quick to point out this is not a one-woman job. “No man is an island, so to speak,” Runge says. “I have great people and great support, I have a great team.”
This show is extra special to Runge because she has three family members in it. Her husband, Kit Runge, is playing “one of the baby daddies” and two of her daughters, Indigo and Piper, are in the ensemble.
“It’s so nice to have friends and family (in the cast) and I really try to make it a positive experience for those involved,” Runge says. “Hopefully that positive experience transfers to those people sitting in the audience.”
The production also comes at an opportune time, with the “Mamma Mia!” movie sequel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” providing coincidental marketingp.
Although Runge says the timing was not necessarily intentional, it also didn’t hurt the production.
“It kept ‘Mamma Mia!’ on everyone’s mind,” Runge says.
Runge acknowledges that the musical is often written off as a fluff piece, but she says there is something to be said about taking a moment to simply be happy.
“I think the world just needs love and light,” Runge says. “We all need the opportunity to dance in the aisles.”