Decatur High School presents “Mamma Mia!”


Poster created by Macy Mcclarin to promote the show

Urja Davesar

Decatur High School recently announced the production of the musical, Mamma Mia! The choice to switch the musical from Bye Bye Birdie to Mamma Mia! was a result of conflict surrounding the previous choice of Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie’s storyline follows a rock and roll singer having his dreams cut short as he is drafted into the army. However, according to Decatur’s theater department, the dialogue used in the play contains racially insensitive messages. 

In the show, a white character wishes for a Puerto Rican immigrant to be “sent back” to where they came from. Scenes like this exhibit a theme typical at the time of its production (1960) and don’t currently reflect the views of Decatur students, according to Decatur’s theater department.

Raven Owen-Beyer, the school’s Musical Theater Teacher & Director, sought to resolve this problem. 

“After hearing their concerns, I decided to allow the students to have a voice in the show selection this year. They came back with 10-12 suggestions and I applied for the rights for seven of those shows,” Owen-Beyers said. After receiving the rights for four of the shows, Owen-Beyers ultimately selected Mamma Mia!, as she thought it “was the best fit for [Decatur’s] program at the time.”

In Mamma Mia!, Sophie, the main character, is searching for her biological father, who she has to find by her wedding day.

“The main message is that you don’t need anyone else to complete who you are, and It is also a celebration of single mothers and as the daughter of a single mother myself, I can relate to that theme,” Owen-Beyer said.  

As of now, the auditioning process is over and the team has been rehearsing for over a month. However, the beginning of the audition process during COVID did pose some difficulties. “So much of acting is about facial expressions so it can be very difficult to judge performances when most of their face is covered,” Owen-Beyer said. 

Although COVID has been prevalent for quite a while, they are used to this by now. Ms. Owen-Beyer emphasizes that the students do an amazing job of acting, singing, and dancing in masks. “They are incredible. We are hopeful that by the time our show opens in March, the COVID surge will be over and we will be able to open the theater doors to the entire community” Owen-Beyer said.