LUVERNE — Hearing some of ABBA’s greatest hits including “Dancing Queen”, “Honey, Honey” and “Take a Chance on Me,” may have people shimmying in their seats as the Green Earth Players take the stage the next two weekends for the lively hit musical, “Mamma Mia!”
Performances are this Friday through Sunday, and Nov. 18-21, at the Historic Palace Theatre in Luverne. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. nightly, with Sundays dedicated to matinee performances at 2 p.m.
As of Monday morning, 1,000 advance tickets had already been sold for the shows, with the Players opening up balcony seating for their long-awaited return to the stage.
“All through the pandemic, our community just really was behind us, asking when we were coming back,” said Producer Diane Ossenfort.
“It was always, ‘When are you coming back?’ and we really had no answer,” added Shawn Kinsinger, executive director of the Palace Theatre and director of GEP’s latest production.
Well, they’re back and ready to entertain.
“In about September 2020 ... I was thinking about the future and what I wanted to do when we opened back up again,” said Kinsinger. “We needed something to jumpstart the community. Theater has always been supported by the community.”
Kinsinger was thinking of big shows — popular shows — and “Mamma Mia!” “fell on me like a ton of bricks.”
Having been closed since mid-March due to COVID-19, though, the Palace and GEP needed a financial boost. A grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council helped them move forward.
Auditions were conducted in late August and early September to fill in the 22-member cast, and rehearsals started a week later. Many of the Players are Rock County residents, and Kinsinger found there are “a lot of closet ABBA fans in this community.”
“We’ve got a lot of new faces on the stage — not just new to Green Earth Players, but new to Luverne,” he said. “From top to bottom it’s been a great experience, and we’re selling tickets like crazy, so it seems the community is ready.”
The last GEP production was set to take the stage in late March of 2020 when the pandemic hit and every performance had to be cancelled.
“It is really good to be back — it was a long stretch there of waiting,” Kinsinger said. “You don’t realize how much you miss doing it until you can’t. When it’s gone, it leaves a hole in your life.”
Ossenfort said all of the Palace’s season ticket holders were given one free ticket to “Mamma Mia!” as a thank you for their support during the past 20 months.
Tickets for the performances may be ordered at the Palace Box Office by calling (507) 283-4339 or online at palacetheatre.us.