Hannah Church and Nick Arapoglou as Sophie and Sky star in the Aurora Theatre production of “Mama Mia!” Photo: Chris Bartelski

“Mamma Mia” comes to Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre

When the Aurora Theatre’s new production of “Mamma Mia” approaches its final curtain, don’t leave!

If you run out to the parking lot to miss the crush, you’re also going to miss the encore and the extra-crazy outfits that costume designer Alan Yeong has created for the topper to the night’s fun.

During the encore, Yeong unleashes a year’s supply of sequins. The challenge will be getting all those actors into those clothes.

There are 25 actors in the cast of the show, which opens at the Aurora on Thursday, and every one must strip off what they’re wearing and throw on some new glad rags before that last number. “That will be my nightmare,” said Yeong, who teaches in the theater department at the University of West Georgia and regularly designs for shows in Atlanta. He created the costumes for last summer’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” also staged by the Lawrenceville theater company.

Like “Hunchback,” “Mamma Mia” has built-in expectations for costume designers. Audiences will expect the DayGlo jump-suits and bell bottoms of the ’70s Swedish super group Abba — and they will get those. But they’ll get a little extra from Yeong, who also took inspiration from a German/Jamaican pop group called Boney M that made Parliament Funkadelic look like they did their shopping at Brooks Brothers.

There are 25 songs from the Swedish super group Abba and 150 costumes in the new production of “Mama Mia!” staged by the Aurora Theatre. It features, (from the left) Marcie Millard, Kristin Markiton, Terry Henry, Nick Arapoglou and Hannah Church. Photo: Chris Bartelski
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Their costumes are fantastically funny,” said Yeong. “There’s a lot of sci-fi influences there. Hopefully, it will turn out good.”

“Mamma Mia” is the story of young love, a Greek Island and a Shakespearean confusion of parentage, but mainly it’s a serviceable framework for 25 Abba songs that are relentlessly singable. (Aurora will, in fact, stage three performances at which the audience is invited, and even encouraged, to sing along: on March 27, April 3 and April 10.)

The jukebox musical has been seen by 60 million people, earning $2 billion since its debut in 1999. It was transformed into a movie in 2008.

This summer will bring a sequel to the movie, “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again,” with the iconic Cher playing the part of a glamorous grandmother.

That’s a whole lotta Abba. But, says Yeong, who grew up in Malaysia, “Who doesn’t like Abba? It’s such catchy pop. It just invades your brain and you start humming.”

Yeong and his helpers are creating 150 costumes for this show, many of them from scratch. He will utilize the power of platform wedges, but none of the shoes will have a heel higher than three inches, for safety’s sake.

There are many quick changes in the show. “It’s like a crazy parking lot backstage,” he said. “You’re doing a lot to make sure they have time to change and make them feel good as well.”

In at least one scene the ensemble executes a costume change while they continue to sing offstage. Perhaps it’s for this reason that Yeong has refrained from using Velcro. “I try to shy away from Velcro. I don’t like that sound.”

THEATER PREVIEW

“Mamma Mia.” 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. March 8-April 22. $40–$75. Aurora Theatre, 197 W. Crogan St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-6222, www.auroratheatre.com.

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