Temecula Valley Players brings ‘Mamma Mia’ to Old Town theater

Sarah Farooqui stars as Donna in Temecula Valley Players’ “Mamma Mia,” at opening this weekend at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater. Shawna Sarnowski photo

The music of ABBA will flow from the Old Town Temecula Community Theater stage for the next three weekends as the Temecula Valley Players present the hit musical, “Mamma Mia” through Sept. 22.

The story tells the tale of a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father which brings three men from her mother’s past back to the Greek island paradise they last visited 20 years ago.

“This is my second time directing ‘Mamma Mia,’” director Carol Damgen said. “I knew the first time I got the show that I was going to like it but I had no idea that I was gonna love it. I think that it is a really beautiful story and has hidden depths that I think will surprise people who have never seen it before. I think that those people who have seen ‘Mamma Mia’ over and over again will enjoy our take on it.

“I think the heart of ‘Mamma Mia’ truly is love and finding love at all ages and that your life is never over. You always can grow and you can change and you can be the very best version of yourself but the only way that you can do that is if you really know who you are at the core,” Damgen said.

Sarah Farooqui stars as Donna, Emily Nightingale is Sophie, Gene Sitts is Sam, Sonia Watson is Tanya, Rachel Pfiefer Green is Rosie and Jason Wesley Green is Bill.

The supporting cast consists of Shai Culver, Kelly Brenya, Mario Adurias, Caleb Reece, Michel Michelucci and Brian Barr.

“The cast is an amazing group of talented people many of them are local from Temecula,” Damgen said. “I couldn’t ask for a more committed, dedicated and fun-spirited group of people. I’m very proud of all of them.”

Damgen said the choreography by Summer Betancourt is standing out in rehearsals.

“She’s a young choreographer but she brings such a level of depth and complexity and freshness to all of the dance numbers,” Damgen said. “When everyone sees all of the different moments onstage coordinated with fantastic dancing, I think the audience is going to be really blown away.”

Damgen said Farooqui stands out in the lead role of Sarah.

“I think the audience is going to be really touched by the performance of Sarah,” Damgen said. “(She) is just an amazing actress, she’s British equity, and she just brings such a tremendous amount of talent and depth and understanding of the character.”

Damgen said coordinating rehearsals has been the only difficulty leading up to opening night.

“It takes a lot of work and we have worked really hard to do the best we can with the story,” she said. “Trying to accommodate so many different people’s schedules, that’s the only difficulty. It has actually been pure joy doing the show and I’m really, really proud of it.”

Damgen said for those who haven’t seen the play, don’t worry, it’s not just an homage to ABBA.

“The thing that shocked me about this play is how lovely it is, it’s not just this homage to 1970s music,” she said. “It’s about love, it’s about friendship, it’s about family, it’s about finding out who you are. I think that there’s not one person in the audience that can’t relate to all of those wonderful themes.”

“Mamma Mia’ will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Friday, Sept. 5-7, Sept. 12-14, and Sept. 19-21. Matinee performances will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, 15 and 22.

Ticket prices range from $12 to $27 and vary depending on days and can be purchased online at www.temeculatheater.org, by calling (866) 653-8696 or at the theater box office.

Season tickets to all Temecula Valley Players performances are also available.

The Old Town Temecula Community Theater is at 42051 Main Street in Temecula.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.