MAMMA MIA! Local talent takes stage at Troy University

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

“Mamma Mia!” took Broadway by storm and was a blockbuster movie musical and now it’s coming to the Claudia Crosby Theater this weekend as a production of the Troy University Department of Theater and Dance. Opening night tickets are sold out and seating is limited for the 2:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday performances. For tickets go online at

And, when the curtain goes up Friday night, Jesse Graham, a professor in the Troy University Department of Theater and Dance, will take the lead as Donna. As the “mamma,” Graham is having a ball on stage with student actors who sit in her classroom.

“When casting the musical, director Tori Lee-Averett wanted the audience to be able to relate to the characters,” Graham said. “I’m 41 and my daughter, Sophie, played by Nelsey Leverette, is 19. As the mother, I’m saying, ‘back in my day,’ so the casting of different generations works really well.”

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Graham said the casting is also a life’s lesson for the student actors.

“That’s the way life will be,” she said. “They will be working with people older and younger. I’ve been a professional actor so they have had an opportunity to see how we work.”

Graham said there is a mix of characters including students, faculty members and alumni. And, although the cast has been rehearsing since February and has often put in late night and weekend rehearsals, all the work has been worth it, Graham said.

“Enthusiasm has been high so it’s just been a lot of fun, great fun,” she said. “‘Mamma Mia!’ features lots of dancing and singing and all the music is familiar. The orchestra in the pit is amazing, the costumes are great, as is the set. We are all looking forward to opening night and the entire weekend. We hope the audience enjoys ‘Mamma Mia’ just as much as we do.”

In addition to Graham, Leverette and Lee-Averett, local cast and crew members are Seth Manning, Jacob Brooks, Jenny Meadows, Olaf Lieb, Taylor Montgomery, Raquel Cole, Avery Kinson (tech), Martavious Ginyard and Dani Daniels.