PHOTO: Emily Price, Chelsea Williams and Olivia Ashley Reed from the 'Mamma Mia!' North American Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus
Mamma Mia!, the musical that features hit songs from the 1970s pop group Abba is coming to Portland. The show will be at the Keller auditorium from Nov. 25 -30 and heads to Washington State next year where it will play in Kennewick, (March 19) Spokane, (March 20-21) Yakima, (March 22) Seattle (March 24-29) and Bellingham (March 30). See full tour schedule here.
Without giving away the plot we can tell you the story takes us to a Greek island where a mother and daughter and their loved ones are about to celebrate the daughter’s wedding. The Skanner News talked to Olivia Ashley Reed who plays Lisa, a friend of the bride.
The Skanner News: You are a native New Yorker. So will this be your first visit to the West Coast.
Olivia Ashley Reed: I visited California once when I was in middle school but that was about it. So this is my first time in Portland.
TSN: We hope you enjoy your visit to Portland. Our readers want to know how did you land your role in Mamma Mia.
OAR: I just recently graduated from college in May and I was fortunate enough to work in some professional shows as an actor, performer and choreographer while I was in school. So I went a large professional audition conference and Joy who ended up casting for Mamma Mia was there. She called me in and I sang for her again and she said she was interested in seeing me again. But she wasn’t sure which show. So I waited and waited and nothing came up. Then she called me about Mamma Mia.
I had seen part of the movie but never seen it on Broadway, but I knew it was a fun show and I thought it would be great if I could do that after graduation. So I went to the call backs and I made it through and I got the part.
TSN: So you are playing the part of Lisa, one of the bride’s friends. How is that?
OAR: I love it. It is a great show to be part of because it is very light-hearted. It’s fun and people really love the show. My job is to entertain others and make them happy and give them an escape from their day. Mamma Mia is a great escape for people so it kind of makes my job easy.
TSN: What do you sing?
OAR: I don’t have any solo songs but with my role myself and my counterpart allie, who is the other friend of the bride, we back up Sophie in the song Honey Honey. Other than that all female ensemble members sing in every song in the show. We sing back up and we are constantly singing in the show.
TSN: You have been singing since you were very young. Are you from a musical family?
OAR: I am from a musical family, but what really started my interest was church. Music inspired me from a very early age. I’m also a dancer so I got to live in music through dance. My parents sent me to voice lessons with the choir director and he trained me in classical music. So I learned to sing in church and in a concert style. Then when I entered musical theater and started acting in plays, that’s when I learned that repertoire and developed stamina through singing and dancing and acting, all of that.
TSN: Do you need to work out to keep your voice strong.
OAR: Core work is very important for your voice. It reminds you to stay holistic in your body and really use your breath as support. And in Mamma Mia, because there is a lot of dancing and movement and running back and forth, so that is a workout too.
TSN: Have you had a favorite role among those you have played?
OAR: So far in my career, my favorite role has been Anita in West Side Story. That was a great challenge so I thoroughly enjoyed the role.
TSN: What about the future: Is there a role you’d really like to play?
OAR: I’m very open-minded about shows I’d like to be in. Anything that is big and dancy appeals to me. Sometimes I’m torn between the dream of playing the leading lady and also being the leading dancer. So when I can find a show with great vocal tracks and a great dance track I’m in heaven.
TSN: What are you reading right now that you can recommend?
OAR: I’m reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’m about half-way through and I can recommend that as a fun, twisty, thriller.
TSN: What about music. What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
OAR: Since the beginning of the tour I’ve really been enjoying listening to Janelle Monae. She has a fun R&B/jazz/funk style so listening to her helps me get pumped for the show.