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'Mamma Mia!' closes out Paul Bunyan Playhouse season

The musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. July 27-30 and Aug. 4-6 along with 2 p.m. showings on July 31 and Aug. 3 at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.

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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members rehearse a scene from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” set to open on Wednesday, July 27, at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — The Paul Bunyan Playhouse will conclude its summer season with the popular musical “Mamma Mia!” opening on Wednesday, July 27, at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on July 27-30 and Aug. 4-6 along with showings at 2 p.m. on July 31 and Aug. 3.

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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“Mamma Mia!” made its debut in 1999 and was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA composed by band members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

The title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topping song. Ulvaeus and Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development of the show from the beginning.

“It’s fun, it’s bubbly, it’s musical entertainment,” said Paul Bunyan Playhouse director Jim Williams. “Most people know the songs. They weren’t written specifically for the show, but the show’s plot lines revolve around them.”

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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members, from left, Zachary Hedner, Abby Sexton, Thomas Sonnamen and Loren Dryburgh rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

The musical includes such hits as "Super Trouper," "Lay All Your Love on Me," "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Take a Chance on Me," "Thank You for the Music," "Money, Money, Money," "The Winner Takes It All," "Voulez-Vous," "SOS" and "Mamma Mia."

Martinoa Mayotte from the Twin Cities is the musical director and plays the keyboard in the show. The other musicians are from Bemidji: Luke Bastian on keyboard and brothers Aaron Schnackenberg on percussion and Daniel Schnackenberg on bass.

Veteran Twin Cities actress Abby Sexton plays Sophie Sheridan, the lead role. She’s a young woman searching for her birth father. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Williams said Sexton, who also appeared in “All Shook Up” to open the season, brings a lot of energy to the role.

“She’s got spunkiness to her,” he said. “She’s got a great voice.”

Jackie Olson, another Twin Cities actress, plays Donna Sheridan, Sophie’s mother.

The three “potential” fathers are played by Loren Dryburgh, Thomas Sonneman and Zachary Hedner. Dryburgh, who lives in Fosston, was recommended for the part by Playhouse costume designer Marilyn Hood, who directed him in the same play for the Bagley Community Theater.

Tickets are $27 each. Single show tickets, season tickets and flex passes are available online at thechieftheater.com or at the Chief Theater box office.

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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members, from left, Jennifer Farrell, Carter Hoffer, Jackie Olson and Tyler Peters rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members, from left, Rachel Curry, Abby Sexton and Dani Miller rehearse a scene from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” set to open on Wednesday, July 27, at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Paul Bunyan Playhouse Heather Williams, left, and Jennifer Farrell rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members, from left, Abby Sexton, Thomas Sonnamen, Loren Dryburgh and Zachary Hedner rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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Paul Bunyan Playhouse members, from left, Heather Williams, Brandon Lundquist, Jackie Olson and Jennifer Farrell rehearse a scene on Monday, July 25, 2022, from their upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: THEATERTHINGS TO DO
Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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