3 generations in ‘Mamma Mia!’ production

Courtesy Photo Three generations will be working together in the upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” in the De Smet Event and Wellness Center. They are, from left, Janis Andol, grandmother, from Yale, Aria Gruenhagen, granddaughter, who lives in De Smet, and Tristin Gruenhagen, Aria’s mother, who also lives in De Smet.

You could say performing on stage — whether it be singing or playing a saw — is old hat for Janis Andol of Yale, and her daughter, Tristin Gruenhagen of De Smet, and granddaughter, Aria Gruenhagen, a junior at De Smet High School this fall.
But when they appear in the upcoming musical, “Mamma Mia!” it will be the first time the three generations have ever shared the spotlight on stage.
“Mamma Mia!” will be presented by Quarterton Productions at the De Smet Event and Wellness Center on Aug. 22-23, Aug. 25, Aug. 28-31, and Sept. 1. Showtimes will be at 7 p.m., except Sunday’s when they will perform at 2 p.m. Director is Trey Karlen of De Smet.
“I’ve done a lot of things in my life on stage, but not a play — not even in high school,” Andol said. “My daughter and granddaughter have parts, and I’m in the chorus. There is a lot of music to memorize.
“It’s been fun in the practices where I can see them doing their thing, too,” she added. “I’ve enjoyed it a lot, but it’s a lot to learn — for everybody.”
Tristin, who has been in several plays produced in De Smet, said learning music and dance steps has been more fun than work.
“I love it, it’s like playing make-believe,” Tristin said. “It’s an escape from other things I do. I know some people think it’s a commitment, but it’s a fun time. With this production, I’m lucky enough to spend more time with my mom and one of my daughter’s.”
Tristin and her husband, Jason, have two daughters, Lyric and Aria. “They’re the songs in my heart,” Tristin added.
“My grandma is very musical and my mom is very theatrical,” Aria said. “I think that’s the reason that I am so theatrical and musical. I love having them both in the play.
“I love seeing my mom act, I think she is so funny,” she added. “My mom has so much theater experience, she was in a community play when she was pregnant with me.”
Aria has acted in 10 plays so far, although this is her first community theater experience. The previous plays were in high school.
“‘Mamma Mia!’ is my favorite movie, ever,” Aria said. “I love the music from it. I love the play. So do a lot of people at school. I feel this is a really good first community play for me to do, I know a lot of the songs.”
There are about 25 people in the musical, not counting the production crew, ranging in age from mid-teens to 80-plus.
“I don’t think we’ve had everybody there yet at once,” said Karlen, who schedules at least three rehearsals a week. “There aren’t too many people gone now.
“There are a lot more technical issues to a musical,” he said. “Lots more lighting questions, microphones, it’s quite an undertaking.”
Among cast members are two from Howard, two from Willow Lake, two from Brookings and five from Huron — Paul Queija, Charlyn Contreras, Reese Uecker, Leo Jensen and Annette Bowen.
“It’s really a big area we get involved in this,” Karlen said. “I really appreciate the Huron people coming over, we couldn’t do it without them.”
Andol, who missed two weeks of rehearsals in July when she and her husband, Leif, traveled to Norway, said she enjoys watching Karlen working with actors on stage.
“He can pull talent out of anybody,” she said. “He’s one terrific director. He really makes us practice, it will be perfect when we have it done. They put on wonderful plays in De Smet regularly.”
Everyone is encouraged to pick a night and take a drive to De Smet for this musical experience.
“Everybody is going to know the music,” Karlen said. “It’s just a really fun, upbeat show for all ages — we keep it clean. Men and women alike will really like it. It will be a good time.”
On a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding — one which includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn’t know who he is! Her mother Donna, the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking a peek in her mother’s old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers: Sam, Bill, and Harry. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought! Told through the legendary music of ABBA, Mamma Mia! has become a worldwide sensation that has audiences everywhere dancing.
Popular songs of ABBA, including “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “SOS,” and “Take a Chance on Me,”


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