A high-powered, world-famous musical comes to Odell while in Hood River, a comic mystery debuts, as two local theater groups open new productions this weekend.

“Mamma Mia!” fills Wy’east Performing Arts Center, stage on the Odell middle school campus. Mark Steighner directs a large cast in the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association (CGOA). The show opens Friday.

“Big Smoke,” written by Finnegan Kruckemeyer, opens Thursday at Columbia Center for the Arts. Fourth-grader Gretchen Hedberg and third-grader Cooper Castello head the multi-ages production.

They are onstage for nearly the entire show and deliver the vast majority of the lines in the play, and have worked extremely hard to memorize lines, build strong acting skills and develop their characters, said Director Sullivan Mackintosh. They are supported by an ensemble of adult actors who each play several different roles and create the atmosphere for the kids’ adventure.

At Wy’east, CGOA Stages revisits the global phenomenon that ran long on the London and Broadway stages and was made into a 2008 film starring Meryl Streep. The “jukebox musical” wraps most of the hits by the 1970s pop group ABBA’s hits around not one but two tales of love, set on a Greek island.

Jennifer Hanlon-Wilde stars as Donna, a single mother who has raised her daughter, Sophie, in her taverna on a beautiful Greek island. Sophie (Michelle Firshing) is about to be married, and unbeknownst to Donna, invites her mother’s former lovers to the wedding, in hopes of finding out the identify of her father. Steighner leads an on-stage band that features Kathy Hannen-Smith and Corin Parker on keyboards, Dennis Castanares on guitar, Paul Thompson on bass and Michael Grodner on drum kit. The audience may sing along and are encouraged to come in their favorite ABBA or “Mamma Mia!” inspired costume.

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