Every day is Mother's Day in "Mamma Mia!"
One of Broadway's most feel-good, fun-filled productions, it's making the rounds this spring in fresh productions at the Ogunquit Playhouse, on the Maine coast, where it opens the season May 19-July 1, and at the Boston Opera House, where the Farewell National Tour runs May 30-June 4.
Filled with a score of timeless ABBA hits, including "Dancing Queen," "Money, Money, Money" and the sprightly title tune, the funny, sunny show unfolds on a Greek island paradise, where Sophie, a young bride-to-be has invited three men, each of whom could be her dad, to the big event. Her mom, Donna, a former rock star, was involved with each in her past life -- but isn't sure who Sophie's father is.
Fred Inkley, an actor with local ties, plays Bill, one of the possible dads, in his Ogunquit Playhouse debut. Inkley grew up on Cape Cod and went to school with Brad Kinney, the artistic director at Ogunquit.
"We're having a great time reconnecting," Inkley said recently. "We haven't seen each other since our days at Dennis-Yarmouth High School, so it's fun."
Longtime Boston theater audiences will remember Inkley for his portrayal of the Beast in the first national tour of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" in the 1990s. He has also worked at North Shore Music Theatre and with Reagle Players and performed with the Boston Pops. On Broadway, he had two acclaimed stints playing Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" and was also in "Annie" and "The Addams Family."
This is his first time doing "Mamma Mia!" and it's fun to be in the light-hearted show, he said.
"My character Bill is a traveler and author, but he settles down at the end when he meets Rosie (one of Donna's singing partners and friends). Rehearsals are wonderful so far
it's a pretty fast process," he said.
There are local ties, as well, in the "Mamma Mia!" Opera House cast. Chloe Kounadis, an actress who grew up in Framingham, makes her national tour debut appearing as Ali, best friend of the young bride Sophie.
"I'm having a wonderful time doing this show," said Kounadis, a graduate of the Hartt School in West Hartford, Conn. "For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to do musical theater, and it is wonderful."
Playing to a hometown audience on the Opera House stage is something she relishes. "My mom is organizing theater parties -- I think we have about 250 people coming."
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the marquee
HAPPY EVER-AFTERING: The Lyric Stage brings forth another love triangle in its new production of "Camelot," running May 19-June 25 at the Copley Square, Boston venue. Newly adapted for today's audiences, this story of King Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot features a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, and is directed by Lyric's artistic director Spiro Veloudos. Call 617-585-5678 or visit www.lyricstage.com for tickets.
NORTON AWARDS: Nashua native Randy Harrison took home the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Visiting Actor for his landmark performance as the Emcee in the touring production of "Cabaret." The show played the Boston Opera House earlier this year. Harrison got his start in theater as a kid when he performed with the Actorsingers of Nashua, a community troupe. The 35th annual awards ceremony, first created by the late, legendary, esteemed Boston theater critic Elliot Norton and named in his honor, were held Monday night at the Huntington Theatre Company's BU Theatre. Other winners with local ties include playwright Melinda Lopez of Bedford, who won the Outstanding New Script prize for her one-woman play Mala. Lopez has acted at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, as have actresses Karen MacDonald and Paula Plum, who both won Norton Awards. MacDonald won Outstanding Actress, Large Theater, for her work in "Finish Line," produced by Boch Center in association with Boston Theatre Company. Plum won Outstanding Actress, Midsize Theater, for her work in the Lyric Stage's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Diane Paulus, artistic director of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard, was this year's recipient of the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence for her outstanding work at the ART. The awards are presented annually by the Boston Theater Critics Association. For the full list of winners, visit www.elliotnortonawards.com.
SUMMER SHOWS: Rising country-music star Ayla Brown headlines the cast as the Narrator in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," running June 8-18 at the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston in Waltham. The cast also features Peter Mill as Joseph and Andrew Giordano as Pharaoh. Other shows in the season include "Showboat," July 6-16, and "42nd Street," Aug. 3-13. Visit www.reaglemusictheatre.com for tickets and info.