A wedding, three long-lost lovers, and lots and lots of ABBA. Only one play can encompass all of this—Mamma Mia!
The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ (CDT) production of the musical stars Maple Grove resident Kersten Rodau as Donna Sheridan, a mother hosting her daughter’s wedding on an island in Greece. The story takes a turn when Donna’s daughter, Sophie, invites all of her potential fathers to the wedding, throwing Donna back to the past, revisiting old flames.
Maple Grove Magazine: How did you get into acting?
Kersten Rodau: My sophomore year of high school, I was persuaded by my choir teacher to audition for our spring school musical, The Music Man. I ended up getting cast as the lead role of Marian Paroo and was immediately bit by the musical theater bug. I’ve always loved to sing since I was a little girl, but it was a whole new experience for me to learn how to dance and act, as well. I just wanted to continue to learn and improve and decided to pursue a musical degree in college [specifically in music performance].
MPG: What is your favorite part about playing Donna?
KR: I grew up listening to ABBA music, so I love being able to sing so many of their greatest hits night after night. I also love the arch of different emotions that Donna goes through, from seeing her old friends again, dealing with three past loves of her life, who’ve unexpectedly come to visit, and helping her daughter get ready for her wedding.
MPG: What do you have planned after Mamma Mia!?
KR: … [I’m] looking forward to spending more quality time with my children, husband and dog.
MPG: Is it bittersweet when a production comes to an end?
KR: Definitely, especially when you’re doing a long run. You spend so much time invested in that character and with your cast members. It’s like leaving a second family behind.
MPG: What is your take on Minnesota’s theater scene?
KR: The Twin Cities has one of the most thriving, energetic theater scenes in the country. We’re home to some of the best theatres, like the world-renowned Guthrie Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, which is the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people, as well as [CDT], which is the nation’s largest dinner theater company. There [is] a plethora of theaters here, where you can make a decent living and grow as a theatre artist. I love living here and can’t imagine working anywhere else. (Rodau’s performed with [CDT], the Guthrie, the Ordway, Park Square Theatre and the Minnesota Orchestra.)
MPG: What are your favorite roles?
KR: Well, I absolutely love playing Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! right now! Previously, I loved playing Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel and evil Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, but I have to say playing my dream role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl has been my all-time favorite.
MPG: What is the best part of being on stage?
KR: ... there have been some very funny moments of forgotten lines, lyrics and props, missed entrances or unexpected audience outbursts, but the most memorable times are when you talk to the patrons afterwards and find out how your performance positively affected them.
I had a cancer patient tell me that she just came to the show after her chemotherapy appointment, and it was the best medicine that finally cheered her up.
I’ve had parents tell me after a performance that their children couldn’t wait to come back to the theater and see a show again because it was so much fun for them. It’s an incredible feeling when your performance can emotionally impact someone.