The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Actors in ‘Mamma Mia’ overcome challenges of having 2 casts

Kavya Patel
The Bjorn Cast doing their final bows. 

The lighthearted movie musical “Mamma Mia!” was originally released in theaters in 2008 and starred Meryl Streep as Donna, the single mother of bride-to-be Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried. In the musical, Sophie invites three past lovers of Donna to her wedding in Greece, hoping to discover which one is her father. The plot follows the dramatic chaos that ensues as the wedding draws nearer while Sophie works toward finding her biological dad. 

Due to its high appeal, well-known songs and popular dances, the drama department decided to perform “Mamma Mia!” for the spring musical. The six performances in late April and early May were performed by two casts — the Bjorn cast and the Benny Cast, named after two rockstars in the band ABBA whose songs the musical’s soundtrack is based on. 

Show days were split between the two separate casts: the Bjorn cast — with sophomore Niraali Garg playing Donna and senior Anastasia Ramirez playing Sophie — performed on April 29, May 5 and the matinee on May 6, while the Benny cast — starring sophomore Jo Bejar as Donna and sophomore Diya Iyer as Sophie — performed on April 28, April 30 and the 7 p.m. show on May 6. 

All funds collected via ticket sales and concessions for the play were pooled into the drama program’s budget for the 2023-24 school year. 

Preparations for the musical began with auditions in early February and castings were released a few weeks later. Production was led by drama teacher Benjamin Brotzman, who served as the main director for both casts, as well as stage directors sophomore Rylee Stanton, junior Arushi Maheshwar and senior Dragon Neal, who helped block scenes and coach actors into their roles through notes and character work. 

According to senior Anastasia Ramirez, who played Sophie in the Bjorn cast, the production was generally difficult to pull off due to the high number of 27 songs that were jam-packed dance numbers.

Actors also struggled to navigate splitting practice time between the two casts. As a result, many students like Ramirez were unable to practice as much as they would’ve liked to.

“I don’t think we will be double casting in the future, which is both a blessing and a curse because the leads will get more attention, but there will also be more competition,” she said. 

However, Ramirez noted that it was fun to learn from her counterpart, sophomore Diya Iyer, because they were able to work through their challenges together. 

For their shared role of Sophie, Ramirez said that it was occasionally difficult to get into character. The characters she had played in the past, such as Elizabeth Proctor in the fall play “The Crucible,” were more sophisticated and emotionally deep compared to Sophie, who she describes as bubbly, energetic and inquisitive.

As a singer herself, however, Ramirez was very excited to play a character with a big role and lots of singing solos.

Ramirez’s favorite part of the musical was the opening number in Act II titled “Under Attack,” a humorous and energetic number in which Sophie experiences a nightmare when her three potential fathers appear as creepy ghosts and her fiance is wearing her wedding dress. Dancing and singing together with others in this scene, among others, was what Ramirez felt made the show exciting to perform.

“Being in an ensemble is so enriching because you get to work with a team and understand why a show is nothing without a chorus. The play felt like a lot less pressure and the harmonies were so fun,” she said. 

Donate to The Saratoga Falcon

Your donation will support the student journalists of Saratoga High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Saratoga Falcon