Over February 20 to 22, the Chatham Hall community was treated to an outstanding collaboration between the dance and theatre departments for a show-stopping performance of Mamma Mia!.
With a full cast of more than 25 dancers, singers, and actors, the vibrant cast brought the well-known story and beloved songs to life on the Black Box Stage. The large production came together under the leadership of Performing Arts Chair, Gwen Couch; Director of Music, Michelle Cressida-Bliss; and Dance Instructor, Donna Franklin, who oversaw the artistic, music, and dance direction, respectively. The directors reflected on the experience thusly:
Gwen Couch, Artistic Director- “From the acting standpoint, I worked diligently with the students to learn how to act through the songs, especially in the non-dance numbers. The idea is that each song is a journey and the characters need to pull the audience along on that journey. I taught the girls the SAVI method by Charles Gilbert that helps singing actors to be specific, authentic, varied, and intense during each song's journey. It was exciting to bring our three divisions together to create this wonderful opportunity for our students!”
Michelle Cressida-Bliss, Music Director- “Being able to collaborate with the other departments in the Performing Arts in this year's Musical brought the students the benefits of a professional level of production. During preparation, each student had the option to use a paper script or one on their iPads, which was new and extremely useful. There were challenging harmonies for the singers, and the dancers were able to join in with a couple of numbers, so there was an interchange of performing disciplines. It was so exciting to have dancers, particularly. It brought the show to another level. Regan McQuaid ’20 had the great opportunity to work as an assistant coach with the dance students under the guidance of Ms. Franklin, and did so with great aplomb. The student crew were amazing, particularly Annie Radtke ’22 on sound. It's a deceptively hard skill, and Annie made it sound easy. The set-building, costumes and enthusiasm of the performers and crew sparkled more brightly than the Mediterranean Sea. I feel so lucky to have amazing students and artistic collaborators on the Musical Theater productions at Chatham Hall!”
Donna Franklin, Dance Director- “It was a great opportunity for the girls to experience the many different elements that go into putting on a production. Everyone experienced doing something they’d never done before, whether it was a dancer who ended up singing, or an actor who learned to sing and dance at the same time, or a crew member figuring out how to make the specifics of this particular show go smoothly.”
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.