Exclusive! The Cast of Mamma Mia! on How the Musical Changed Their Lives

News   Exclusive! The Cast of Mamma Mia! on How the Musical Changed Their Lives
 
After 14 years on Broadway, Mamma Mia!, the romantic comedy featuring the works of ABBA, sailed off into the sunset Sept. 12. After an emotional final performance at the Broadhurst Theatre, playing to an audience packed with alumni of both the Broadway and touring productions, theatre lovers traveled two blocks south to a festive after-party at URBO Upstairs.

Read more about the final performance of Mamma Mia! here.

"I've never done anything so intense in my life!" Elena Ricardo, who played Sophie at the final performance, said at the after-party. "To be honest, I kind of felt like I had to shut down a little bit. It's all so overwhelming, and I felt like I just had to focus. It was so magical but also — I just feel so content. I feel like everything I've wanted from this experience, I got out of it."

Elena Ricardo
Elena Ricardo Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Playing Sophie had always been a goal for Ricardo, who began her time with the show in the ensemble and auditioned for the role of Sophie several times before booking it. "Now look at where I am! I get to be here. I'm glad I didn't get it those other times."

Ricardo said she cherished the loving and feminist message of Mamma Mia!, a message that was not lost upon former ensemble member Ashley Park, either. "The reason it's lasted 14 years is it's about a mother and daughter," she said. "It's not about, 'I need a man! I need my dad.' She realizes at the end all she needs is herself and her mom. There's nothing like the bond between women — especially a mother and daughter."

"It's all about the girl power!" Liana Hunt said. "Even our conductor [Wendy Bobbitt Cavett]. There's so much strong female power. It's pretty rare, sadly, but it's awesome to be a part of."

Working with strong women is nothing new to Alan Campbell, who starred alongside several great women of the theatre when he played Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. A former Sam, a love interest of of Donna (Judy McLane), Campbell had the opportunity to watch her sing the powerful ballad "The Winner Takes It All" every night onstage, a moment that he cherished.

Alan Campbell and Graham Rowat
Alan Campbell and Graham Rowat Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"I always felt like my responsibility is to never think about the groceries I need to pick up on the way home. My job was to absolutely be in the moment because it's such a difficult song for her to sing. I'd always be like, 'You go, girl!' She did it eight times a week, and it's such a huge moment."

The atmosphere at URBO was exuberant and festive, with former cast members embracing each other with hugs and screams of delight. Performing in Mamma Mia! fostered strong connections among the ensembles, who continuously spoke of how they had become families.

"Mamma Mia! creates a family from top to bottom," Gerard Salvador said. "The cast. The management. It really has created this family of people. When people do a show, they become very close with each other as a cast, but the people that I've met through this show are truly near and dear to my heart and I love them. That is what is so special about Mamma Mia!, and it's what [producer] Judy Cramer wanted from the beginning."

Aaron Lazar
Aaron Lazar Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"It was just one of the most special experiences of my career," former cast member Aaron Lazar said. "The show is — was — a mainstay of Broadway, and, in my experience it's because of the people involved. For a show to run this long took some pretty special people. This party is still going strong and everyone is still hugging. I was only with the show for a little bit and I couldn't get out of here, because I keep running into people I want to hug because they're a special part of that."

Christy Altomare, who had made her Broadway debut as Sophie, said going to work every night was a joy, unfailingly improving her mood.

Christy Altomare
Christy Altomare Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"It's like hitting me now," she recalled. "That entire year of my life I did the show... I remember sometimes I'd call my dad before the show and be like, 'I'm having kind of a bad day,' and I'd leave the show like, 'Hi Dad! How are you doing?' He'd be like, 'I guess your mood's changed.' I guess the show does that to me!"

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