Lowell Park

The set for ‘Mamma Mia’ took shape in Lowell Park.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. But much of the outdoor set for The Zephyr Theatre’s production of “Mamma Mia!” in Lowell Park in downtown Stillwater was constructed within 24 hours, starting Monday morning.

Why the tight timing? Rehearsals for the popular musical were to move to the open-air stage Tuesday. Opening night was Thursday..

“This is a relatively simple set,” the production’s tech director Norm Tiedemann said, and the theatre’s all-around handyman, who was connecting stage lighting Monday morning.

The four-level structure with multiple staircases is deliberately open. It allows the audience a great view of the St. Croix River, a water-filled backdrop evoking the musical’s Greek island location.

The ABBA-music-fueled fun fest, “Mamma Mia!” tells the story of traverna owner Donna who is hosting her daughter’s wedding. Donna’s two best women friends arrive to help prep for the party and calm the mother of the bride. And much help is needed after surprise guests — three men, Donna’s former lovers — show up. One is the father of the bride, but which one?

The 28-by-32-foot mobile concert stage positioned near Lowell Park’s

gazebo will be filled with action. Donna and the Dynamos, the reprised girl band, need plenty of room — and use of all four levels — to belt out “Super Trouper.” So do the 21 professional actors/singers/dancers who let loose on the signature ensemble piece “Mamma Mia!”

The 20-foot-tall wood scaffolding sits on the stage. This is the largest set the theatre has built outside. The last time general contractor Noel Molloy’s crew worked for The Zephyr, the men were bundled up and building the Ice Palace Maze. This time, in July’s unrelenting heat, the carpenters were back to building with wood, creating staircases, a balcony, and other platforms.

Zephyr patrons may recognize the tall “cliff” to the left of the stage and off the newly built dock. The setting for Donna’s emotional rendition of “The Winner Takes It All,” the craggy prop was repurposed from the theatre’s previous production of “Madagascar Jr.,” when it was dubbed Pride Rock.

Raise a stage, build a set, light the scenes, move a mountain — all about a day. Phew! That’s theatre.

“Mamma Mia!” will continue at 7 p.m. July 23-25 in North Lowell Park in downtown Stillwater. General admission tickets are $30 for adults and $22 for children and students with valid ID. Chairs provided. For tickets, visit stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org. For parking info, visit ci.stillwater.mn.us/community/amenities/parking-information.

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