Stories & Cast Interviews
Meet Elise Kinnon in MAMMA MIA!
Elise Kinnon plays Tanya in Mamma Mia and she is also the Associate Director/Choreographer of the show. We met up with her and here's what she had to say!
I grew up in Brisbane, Australia! One of four kids we were all musically inclined. We grew up on a beautiful piece of land with gum trees and even koalas and kangaroos.
My high school acting teaching, Narelle McCoy was instrumental in my career. Always encouraging and helping to nurture my growth as a young actor. Also the Conroy's! I won a scholarship to The Conroy Dance Centre after family friends encouraged my Mum to let me audition. We couldn't afford for me to do such a lavish extracurricular activity and that scholarship changed my life and my family's. We all ended up at the studio and my teachers (Rachelle, Nicole, Marcus, Marisa, and Jan) were all so supportive and challenged me to become my best. I think I was influenced to become an actor early on, watching a lot of old classics growing up (Singing in the Rain, Seven Brides etc.) and always adored the singing and dancing. I knew I wanted to end up on the stage and make my way to the Big Apple!
I performed in Mamma Mia last summer at Theatre Aspen. I actually fell in love with the show! It is such a feel good show and the audience leaves smiling. It also celebrates all of these strong relationships between women. I have an absolute blast onstage with Michelle Dawson and Jen Swiderski.
I do know the film, Mamma Mia! I think it's great that stage musicals are now being turned into films. Gets more Broadway to a wider audience.
Some of my favorite shows? Oh wow, where to even begin?! I have a huge soft spot for 42nd Street, I've done the show 3 times including touring with the production all across Asia. It's such a sweet story of small town gal making it big and you can't beat those massive tap numbers. I'm kind of a sucker in general for the golden oldies, I adore White Christmas and Singing in the Rain. I would love to play Sherrie in Rock of Ages, all that 80's Rock gives me life! Would also love to do The Rocky Horror Show and The Wild Party. It's fun to constantly get to change eras and styles!
When not on stage, I am an avid outdoors gal! Growing up in nature and then living in the concrete jungle it's tough sometimes to get into nature. Though I've been very fortunate with contracts often in Colorado so I get my hiking fix in. Last year I conquered my first 14,000 foot mountain called La Plata. My husband (Justin) and I are also big into snowboarding, camping, playing with our sweet dog Bundy and seeing live music and theatre.
Lately, I've been obsessed with listening to music by Marian Hill and Hozier. Though my usual go to's are Ella Fitzgerald, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Duke Ellington, Ray Lamontagne, Lior and Tower of Power.
About Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia! was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topper "Mamma Mia".
The musical was the idea of theatre producer Judy Craymer. After seeing the 1983 musical Chess, for which Andersson and Ulvaeus also wrote the music, and heard their song "The Winner Takes It All," she realized the theatrical potential of the group's pop songs. She had to find a way of unlocking that potential, with a story strong enough to carry them. “I knew from the outset that Mamma Mia! had to be much more than just an ABBA compilation or tribute show. The story had to be as infectious as the music and provide a strong feel-good factor.”
Craymer enlisted playwright Catherine Johnson to write the book. She found that many of the early ABBA songs were more innocent, naive and teenage-orientated, and later on, they became more mature and reflective. And, of course, it was women who sang them. So that suggested a story about two generations of women, namely a mother and a daughter. “I wanted to write about a working single mother who had got her life together and the relationship she had with her daughter who she absolutely adored but fought with.”
Her challenge was that “whatever happens in the story, I always have to come back to the song… We didn’t want to have those awful clunky moments where people burst into song. To me, it was very important that I create believable characters and gave them all a true storyline, and I absolutely worked to get the story and the songs to work together.” The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs drove the ensuing enchanting tale of love, friendship, and identity set in a Greek island paradise.
Mamma Mia! premiered in London’s West End in 1999. After successful USA West Coast runs, it opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 2001, and then at the Broadhurst Theatre in 2013. After 5,773 performances, Mamma Mia! ended its record-breaking 14-year Broadway run in 2015, making it the eighth longest-running show in Broadway history.
As of 2017, the show continues in London's West End, where it is the eighth longest-running show in West End history. It has been performed in more than 40 countries and across five continents.
A film adaptation of Mamma Mia! was released in July 2008. Featuring much of the creative team from the original London production, it starred Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan.
Director/Choreographer Mark Martino, when asked why he thinks this show remains such a musical theatre favorite and why it elicits a cult response from its fans, said, "I think there are three reasons. The first is the ABBA music. Except for The Beatles, no one else has sold more records than ABBA. It is music we always love to revisit. I defy anyone not to know how "Dancing Queen" goes. Mothers pass it on to daughters and it comes around again and again so that it becomes family music. Actually, the entire musical writing is very clever; there are complex harmonies; they overdub themselves many times, and all the hooks are so singable and memorable. At the same time, there is an underlying current of Swedish melancholy that is moving. Then, secondly, the story that is built around the music is so sweet, so charming, so unabashedly sentimental, so romantic! It is about love and loss, and all those things which tug at our heartstrings. Lastly, it radiates pure joy. When it opened on Broadway in 2001 right after 9/11, many people thought it wouldn't work, given the tragedy that had just happened. Yet somehow, it proved to be the perfect time precisely because it is so joyful that the audience's enjoyment is directly proportionate to what is on stage. There aren't that many shows where the cast gets to have as much fun as the audience, and this is one of them. That comes irresistibly across the footlights. The plot is really very simple: 'Who's my Dad?' But is has a sweetness and humor; it's accessible and moving, and when it opened, it also helped that you couldn't get a ticket for such a long time.”
"I'd like them to feel when they leave," he says of the Mamma Mia! audiences, "that they have spent a couple hours with people they would like to know better. And, of course, "I would love to have the audience think that they should be dancing, too!"
Meet Joanna Young in The Bikinis!
I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. My parents were both teachers and I have a younger brother. I started performing when I was 9 in a local production of ANNIE. After that show, I was smitten and did many other productions. After high school, I attend NYU as a musical theater major.
I can't really imagine any other career for myself. I feel the most alive when I'm on stage and performing. I've had a lot of amazing teachers along the way, most of them music teachers who taught me not only about technique but the value of hard work and how to express myself through this artistic medium.
My agents first told me about this show when I auditioned for a different production a couple years ago. I was cast and did the show at the Riverside Theater with both Karyn and Katy. I had a great time. I really love singing these classic songs with these women. The four-part harmony and arrangements are amazing and we have a lot of fun with the silly sketches.
My favorite show is probably A Chorus Line. I've done the show numerous times. I usually play Diana Morales, but I also got to play Val once, which was fun. I have a lot of dream roles and have been lucky enough to play some of them (Eponine in Les Miz and Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone). I'd love to play Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, but I'm probably too old for that now. I'd also love to play Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Trina in Falsettos, and Betty Blake in The Will Rogers Follies.
I love doing new work and feel like my favorite role hasn't been written yet.
I have three sons who keep me very busy. I love to watch them play baseball and hear them practice their instruments. We love to play games together too (card & board games etc.). I'm an avid reader and I carry a book with me everywhere I go.
I have a huge assortment of music on my phone and computer. I love jazz, pop, theater. The Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Sara Bareilles & John Mayer are some of my favorites. I've currently been reminded of my love of Blossom Dearie and I'm listening to a lot of her old albums.
Meet Jersey Girl, Karyn Quackenbush in The Bikinis!
I grew up in West Milford, New Jersey. Back then it was considered a very rural town, but my parents always took me into see Broadway shows and also took me to Radio City Music Hall.
When I was just a toddler, my parents took me to see Mary Poppins, the movie. I freaked out. I wanted to sing like Julie Andrews. Every time I was in school, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, I would always get in trouble because I was constantly singing in class. Then one day my parents took me to see Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, and that was it! I knew what I wanted to do for a living!
As for the show The Bikinis, I think it's safe to say that Ray Roderick, my husband, wrote the show very loosely based on my summers at the Jersey shore. He loved the fact that every summer I went to the shore and had a different group of friends than I had when I was in school. When you were at the the shore, you could reinvent yourself. The friends you had at the shore didn't know that you were unpopular in school, or you were called a band nerd!! My friends at the shore thought I was cool cause I could sing!
I've been doing the BIKINIS since the year 2010! I believe this is my seventh production.
Some of my favorite shows are the shows from a while ago. Funny Girl, Annie Get Your Gun, Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar.
As far as the dream role, I have a feeling this will never happen, but I always wanted to play Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
When I'm not doing a show, I am a personal assistant for a famous actress. I also am a certified dog groomer and a dog walker! I love all my other jobs!
The songs I love to listen to on my iPod etc. are from artists like Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Peter Paul and Mary, and I love love love Janice Joplin!