‘It’s a dream come true’ -Mamma Mia Star Alisa Melendez

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsIt’s a full circle moment for Broadway star Alisa Melendez, who grew up in a household where the songs of ABBA rang through the walls and where her first Broadway show was Mamma Mia. “I grew up listening to ‘Dancing Queen’ it was our anthem,” Melendez said enthusiastically. “So, this opportunity is just amazing, and I’m honored beyond words.” Melendez is currently starring in Mamma Mia, as Sophie Sheridan, which she describes as a dream come true. In between rehearsals, Melendez spoke with Lawndale Bilingual News about her dream project and what people should expect from the show.

Lawndale Bilingual News: Did you grow up watching Mamma Mia? Were you aware of the cultural phenomenon that is this this Broadway show?
Alisa Melendez: You know, my parents, their first Broadway Show they ever saw in New York City for their anniversary trip, I was young, they saw Mamma Mia. They came home and brought back that album and we listened to it on the way to school, on the weekends. ‘Dancing Queen’ would literally wake me up. Mamma Mia was the first musical they ever saw so it’s special to me and my family. The song ‘Dancing Queen’ has become an anthem for the women in my family. When I was 16 years old, I begged my mom to take me to see Mamma Mia in San Francisco. Mamma Mia has meant a lot to me and my family.

Lawndale Bilingual News: There have been various iterations of Sophie Sheridan throughout the years. How do you portray a character where you have to maintain the essence of that character while making it your own?
Alisa Melendez: I think a big part of it is the encouragement from our team, from our director [Phyllida Lloyd] and our choreographer [Anthony Van Laast]. They have been with the show from the beginning, they have seen it all. They were so gracious at granting us permission to make it our own and saw something specific in each of us. A lot has happened in the last 25 years since, a lot has happened culturally and ethnically and what can we, in this generation, bring to Mamma Mia to make it fresh. My Sophie is a little different than others. I believe the part that I stay true to is that I grew up in a beach down, San Diego. I love to sing and dance. I’m close to my mom and the women in my life. Then there is the side of Alisa and how much do I let that seep into Sophie. I bring a lot of fire as Alisa to this role. I was taught and learned to not let that be hidden. That’s important in my role as Sophie.

Lawndale Bilingual News: What should people expect from Mamma Mia?
Alisa Melendez: Prepare to dance, sing, and have a great time! This is a play that is so special to me and my family and I’m thrilled for people to come see it.

Broadway In Chicago Mamma Mia! is currently at the James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph St.) for a limited engagement through May 19. To date, Mamma Mia! has been seen in 50 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $4 billion at the box office.

Photo Credit: Broadway in Chicago

Comments are closed.