Mamma Mia!

The musical is over. The props are put away, the actors returning to their regular lives. Teachers, students, miners, nurses, retired people and at least one writer will take a deep breath and enjoy the peace, quiet, and extra time on their hands. And yet.

I grew accustomed to the daily cries of the Greek Chorus, ie: the Flin Flon Community Choir, sequestered behind the scenery with the band. We were our own little family back there. ‘What’s happening now?’ we’d ask anyone with a view of the floor. Fortunately, there was lots of singing backstage so we didn’t have too much time on our hands to think about it. I missed being out in the hall with the actors, but we definitely paid better attention to our fearless conductor, Crystal Kolt.

As we sang our hearts out night after night, I realized that the music in Mamma Mia is perfect for every occasion. Feeling betrayed? Try the theme song.

 ‘I was cheated by you and I think you know when, so I made up my mind it must come to an end. Look at me now, will I ever learn, I don’t know how, but I suddenly lose control, there’s a fire within my soul.

These words are applicable to many situations. Got teenagers? A broken down clothes dryer? It’s handy having a theme song you can direct at the recalcitrant child or household appliance, especially when you enjoy singing and need to let off a little steam.

I wouldn’t mind if my friends met me on the street singing, ‘Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong…how it hurts to see you crying, how it hurts to see you sad.’ We all need sympathy from time to time, and it’s such a tender song. Who wouldn’t feel understood with these lyrics? In fact, there were many cathartic moments happening backstage during the whole of the musical. It was like a therapy session. But free.

Then, there’s many people’s favorite song, Dancing Queen.

‘You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life!’  

Well, maybe you can’t dance or jive, but when you listen to Donna’s friends and all the back up singers belting this one out, you’ll feel like you can. This song epitomizes those moments when life can’t get any better. It’s a high five from the universe, the whole world dancing, singing, and pointing at you in a ‘you can do it’ vote of confidence. You find yourself squaring your shoulders and thinking, ‘Dammit, I think I can!’

Then, there’s the cast. Janelle Haucault is our choreographer, ( and that’s forever, Janelle. Don’t try to get out of it.) Unless you’ve been to a Flin Flon musical production, you’ll never see anything like our own Mamma Mia cast and their wild dance moves. After each energetic number, they’d drag themselves to their changing stations, stunned into silence by their extreme effort and looking like nothing more than colorfully dressed, sweaty zombies who got bit at studio 54 in 1979 and haven’t summoned the energy or brains to go home. Every year, the whole singing, dancing cast always seems to lose weight. It’s almost become an audition promise. Like some kind of fitness class from hell…(but not like our class, Tracy. We love our classes with you. 🙂 And yet somehow they gather the energy for the next number, and the next.

We, the choir, are squirming in the dark, frantically looking at our scores, the words written in some kind of comic sans, our book lights trying to sort out the music as we belt out what we hope is the right part. We’re like miners of a different sort seeking the notes and script and praying we strike it rich so we don’t have to see Crystal’s shoulders slump in defeat when we blow it.

Meanwhile, the band is playing like their assess are on fire. The drums, guitars, pianos and tambourines just don’t stop. Nothing short of amazing, and all this perfection for free. That’s right, non-Flinonians. Except for a few, everyone sings, dances, cartwheels and pours their heart and soul out for the sheer fun of it.

And it is fun. We’ve had twenty plus years of performing, and it never gets old. As Sophie sings, ‘It’s the name of the game. Do you feel it the way I do?’  Yes, Sophie. In fact, we all get that crazy high that comes from joining our voices with a bunch of others and letting it rip. Do things go wrong? Occasionally. I never noticed a single mistake with the cast, but I remember singing out too early on one part and then saying, ‘Well, shit. I blew that one,’ before remembering the microphones hovering over our heads. Thankfully, I don’t have a voice that carries.  Which is nothing to be proud of but helps in moments like these.

When the finale comes and the crowd surges to its feet to join us in singing Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Waterloo, there are no doubters in the room. There are no left or right wing nuts, no grudge holders, no sad people. The place rocks and every voice is raised in the kind of harmony that always comes with the celebration of music, art, and most importantly, community. It’s like a magical kind of glue, so that no matter what worries are trying to crowd our spirits, we all have this singing and dancing time together, and in those moments, joy takes over. Of course, the same thing can happen at a Bomber game, too. But that’s a whole other blog. See you in the fall, choristers. Now everyone get some rest.

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