It will be a first for many from June 1 to 3 when students from Penticton Secondary perform their version of Mamma Mia in front of what’s expected to be a sold-out Cleland Theatre crowd.
Being a Grade 12 drama student usually comes with previous live-theatre experience. After a two-year battle with COVID-19 restrictions, though, that’s not the case for those at the Penticton high school anxiously waiting to finally make their mark on stage.
“We’re compound-learning at a ridiculous rate right now,” said Andrew Knudsen, the students’ drama teacher. “The nerves are high but this is the beauty of theatre…everything will work itself out, one way or another.”
Most of Knudsen’s class has yet to make their official live-theatre debut. For the past two years, the students have gone through their high school years performing in front of virtual audiences, something much different than standing before a live crowd, according to the teacher.
The school’s Grade 12 drama class will go down as one to remember for years to come, Knudsen added, based on the unique circumstances that have forced many to make their live performance debuts at the very end of their high school careers.
“A lot of them have never had that full theatrical experience,” he said. “It’s been an interesting path for these particular students over the last few years, unlike anything in the past.”
The production of Mamma Mia at Cleland Theatre will mark the first time Penticton Secondary has had the rights to perform the musical. After spending “thousands” on acquiring the rights to the play, the school dished out an additional amount to rent out the city’s theatre for the three-day show.
Tickets have been selling at a fast rate ahead of the show, however, with stubs available at Penticton Secondary’s accounting office.
The high school’s theatre program is among the only ones in the district to use live musicians when executing a play, as opposed to a backing track.
“It’s not just the kids on stage, it’s the band,” Knudsen said. “My big drive for this is that we represent the community at large and to get as many students involved to make this come together.”
Tickets are $15.