STERLING — Over its 35-plus year history, the summer musical offered by the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe has become a family affair for many. This year is different for one family – every single member of the family is involved with the Troupe’s production of the popular musical "Mamma Mia!" The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. July 5 and 6 at 7:30 pm and at 2 p.m. on July 7 at the Sterling High School Theatre.
From costumer to rock band drummer to band director and cast members – all five members of the David and Kristi Wilson family are involved in the show. Daughter Kaci, who will be a senior pre-med major at Bethel College, is playing the leading role of Sophie while youngest family member Karissa, an upcoming freshman at Sterling High School, is featured in the ensemble. Recent Sterling High graduate and middle child Bryce Wilson has organized and is directing the “Mamma Mia Band” while mother Kristi is assisting with costumes and father David is part of his son’s band, playing drums for the show.
“Over the years we’ve had multiple family members involved but it’s rare that literally every single member of one family is taking part,” says director Dennis Dutton. For "Mamma Mia!" there are three sets of parent/child and two sets of siblings represented in the 34-person cast.
"Mamma Mia!" is a family themed show and centers on a bride’s quest to discover who her father is. The plot is a contrivance built around the familiar rock songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA.
“Make no mistake,” comments Dutton, “the star of the show is the music. Everyone loves those 1970s/80s songs like ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Super Trouper,’ and ‘Winner Takes It All.’”
“This will be my seventh summer doing the musical with Sterling Community Theatre Troupe. I love musicals, but the real reason to be involved with the summer show is the amazing group of people that I get to interact with. It brings together people from many different towns, age groups, and backgrounds and gives us something to bond over. I've made some wonderful friends thanks to these summer musicals,” explains Kaci Wilson. There are high school and college students from six area high schools and four colleges in the show as well as teachers from four high schools and Sterling College.
Kaci continues, “I am playing Sophie, the young, crazy in love daughter of Donna. This is a rare opportunity for me. It's actually the first time in my 13 musicals that I have played a love interest. I've always wanted to play one, and I am having fun figuring it out as I go.”
Younger sister Karissa says, “It's a great way to have the community come together and celebrate our town's talent. I knew the musical was going to be fun, but I was surprised about how incredibly cool the numbers are when they come together. I am one of ‘Sophie's Girls,’ so I am on stage in some numbers dancing and singing beside my sister.”
Mother Kristi is contributing to the show as a costumer, which involves sewing, repairing, and altering costumes and even thrift shopping looking for that perfect color, size or style. “We are making some really fun 1970s costumes for the show. You can't just go buy a pattern and make it. You have to get creative, modify patterns,” she explains.
Even grandmother Cathie Todd from Kansas City has gotten into the act by helping with costumes as well.
“Every summer our dining room overflows with fabric, sewing machines and needles and thread,” Kristi Wilson says.
Drummer David Wilson explains his involvement, “Bryce apparently sensed that I have a super-secret fantasy rock-drummer alter ego and asked me to play. If you get close enough to everyone in show and the joy and purpose in their exhaustingly hard work, you can’t help but want to be right in there with them.”
Wilson has not played the drums publicly since 1985. He says, “I’m embedded with highly skilled and incredibly instinctive musicians both on stage and in the pit. I feel pressure to honor them with solid work. So I have invested heavily in practice.”
Both Wilson parents feel strongly about being involved in the show with their children.
“It’s really rewarding to be involved in something my kids love,” says Kristi.
David adds, “I love being directed by my son Bryce. He is worthy, which doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is my delight in this role reversal.” Although son Bryce has been featured on stage in the cast of Sterling High musicals, he has never served as pit band director before.
Tickets for Sterling’s production of "Mamma Mia!" are $10 for adults and $5 for students and will be available at the door before each performance.