Mama Mia! Here we go again… come on cue the lyrics (you know the words!) Centre Stage’s latest stage production takes back us to everything we loved about the original Mama Mia. It’s the ABBA music, the characters and the love triangle! With tomorrow being Opening Night (Thursday, March 15th) we thought it would be perfect to interview of the leads. Let’s go meet Kayla Gonzalez Willis of who plays Donna’s daughter Sophie!
360: What kind of preparation did you do to take on this iconic role of Sophie?
Kaylee: A lot, a lot a lot of prep. Whenever I approach a new role I love to do a lot of background study. Every single person on this earth was born, has a childhood, has experiences that shape them, has a favorite color, a childhood pet, a first heartbreak etc. that makes us individuals. I treat each role I approach with the same mindset. I like to dig deep and find out why this person thinks the way they do or what memories they have formed throughout their life that shapes their outlook. To some, that might seem crazy but to actors (or at least myself) that’s how I feel deeply rooted and connected to my character versus just playing a part. When characters become deep, free thinking, humans with a story versus just a surface character that’s when a show is able to come to life.
360: Should we expect any changes from the Mama Mia movie?
Kaylee: Let’s just take a minute and remember that this musical originated at the West End, not on a movie screen. Whenever a staged musical has been adapted such as Hairspray, Les Miserables, and Mamma Mia! I feel like people often forget that the movie came later, this show was created for a live audience. Any changes? Everything! Our director John Fagan has done an incredible job with allowing the show to be familiar to the fans of Mamma Mia! but also a fresh take to make it our own. Of course you will see the characters that we all know and love but you will see Centre Stage’s Mamma Mia!, not the movie or even another theatre’s production.
360: What’s your favorite scene or moment for your character?
Kaylee: Ooooo tough question! I think that changes weekly! This week, my favorite moment is between Donna (played by the incredibly talented Glenda ManWaring) and Sophie as she’s getting ready for her wedding. Together we sing the song, “Slipping through my Fingers” which always pulls some major heartstrings. I recently got married last August and the time that my mom and I spent getting ready together will always be a memory I cherish. This scene brings that moment back for me and reminds me that every mother, no matter who you are, has a moment where you look at your child for the first time as an adult and wonder how time slipped away so quickly.
360: How about in general? Favorite line or song? Go!
Kaylee: Oh absolutely! Unfortunately, I don’t think you want that in writing (ha-ha.) Come see the show and I’m sure you will know immediately what it is. I’ll give you a hint. It’s in Act 1 right after we sing Mamma Mia. Donna, Tanya and Rosie are in Donna’s bedroom talking about the three men from Donna’s past who have unexpectedly come to the island.
360: What’s next for you? Will we see you on stage again soon?
Kaylee: Once Mamma Mia! ends, I will begin rehearsals as the Narrator for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at The Warehouse Theatre. This is definitely a year of bucket list roles for me and I could not be any more thankful to have the opportunity. I am beyond excited to share the stage with such incredible casts and crew in both shows!
360: Great. Thank you, Kaylee! We look forward to seeing up on stage! Break a leg.
To learn more about Centre Stage’s Mama Mia and of course to buy tickets click here! Tickets start at $17 and the showtimes run every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night at 8pm with a Sunday matinee at 3pm. The show officially runs through Sunday, April 8th. Enjoy the show!