This past week a tsunami blew into Rutland, landing squarely onto the stage of The Paramount. It was the long-running Broadway musical known as the Greek Islands Love Story, “MAMMA MIA! “—made from the hugely popular music of ABBA. It was a high-speed blender of talent, positive energy, commitment, and the transformative power that live theatre can deliver. A tremendous cast of ten principal actor/singer/dancers was supported by a “game-on” chorus of 18, and a superb small orchestra ensemble of nine; all of whom donated their time over a nearly 4-month rehearsal process.
This huge victory for the community, the company of the show and The Paramount itself was a testament to the warmth, and generosity of our town — and the seemingly bottomless pool of singing and acting talent that inhabits a community of 16,000+ people. The sharply defined exuberance of the performers and playing of the orchestra was first rate, with witty choreography and Broadway-calibre singing and acting; awe-inspiring costumes, lights, sets and props, all conceived, built and delivered by local talent!
2,200 people came through the doors for the three-day run and all three audiences were on their feet for the extended curtain call — hooting, hollering, stamping their feet and singing along with the feel-good, boppy songs of ABBA. The universal joy of laughter, love and friendship unified us and thrilled us — delivering the gentle message of inclusion and arriving at the truth of who we are and how we came to be.
For years we have wanted to produce our own work. In the presenting world (yes, The Paramount is a presenting theatre) artists arrive the day of a show, stay on their tour buses, and hit the stage running at 8:00. In some cases the wheels of the bus are turning before the applause has died down. We set a goal some time ago of one day being able to produce our own work. Last weekend it became a reality — as MAMMA MIA! marked the premiere production of the newly minted Paramount Players, committed to professional -caliber productions produced and performed by local talent. The thousands of donated hours of the work of 80-plus people paid off in grand style as we were transported to a Greek island paradise through the storytelling magic of timeless songs of ABBA, and the strength and the commitment of a unified and inspired cast and production team.
Finally, we have arrived at yet another goal for the good of the entire community: The Paramount Players, high- quality theatre delivered by local talent.
We, here are the Paramount, are so pleased to make this new mission available and we look forward to many fully realized productions offered by the Paramount Players in our future. We thank the greater community for its response to this production and years and years of lively programming which keeps the building humming. Finally, for the astonishingly generous support given to The Paramount by this entire community, we could never adequately express our gratitude.
Bruce Bouchard is the executive director of the Paramount Theatre.