Elena Ricardo '09 Shares Broadway Insights with "Mamma Mia!" Cast

Elena Ricardo ’09 visited Marist School to instruct theater students in choreography and offer Broadway insights during rehearsals of “Mamma Mia!” opening March 22. Ricardo spent special time with Adriana Acevedo ’24, who has been cast in the role of Sophie in Marist’s upcoming production. Ricardo performed the starring role on Broadway and shared tips on developing the character around whose wedding the “Mamma Mia!” story revolves.
While Ricardo attended Marist, she performed under the instruction of then-drama teacher Mrs. Stefanie Stadler, who would often call current Theater Director Mr. Eric McNaughton ’90 to assist with yearly performances. After Ricardo graduated, Mr. McNaughton eagerly secured a ticket to watch her perform an ensemble role in the “Mamma Mia!” national tour. When she moved to the central role of Sophie on Broadway, he admits, “I started to cry the second she stepped out on the stage—solo—to sing the beautiful opening song. It was a very precious moment to see a former student do such good work on Broadway.”

Mr. McNaughton is excited to bring the “sparkly” production of “Mamma Mia! to the Marist theater program for the first time. At the heart of “Mamma Mia! is the world-famous ABBA music, which creates a light-hearted and nostalgic feeling to the timeless story. Once the “Mamma Mia! production was announced to the school community, Mr. McNaughton reached out to Ricardo to invite her to visit Atlanta, her alma mater, and the same auditorium where she honed her talents on the stage.

“Elena is immensely talented, but some of her other strengths are her determination and willingness to give back,” Mr. McNaughton said. “She didn’t hesitate to ask what we needed and when she could join us.”

Ricardo choreographed two numbers for the post-show “megamix” known as the sing-along and dance party following each performance of “Mamma Mia! The medley serves as an opportunity for the audience to participate in the beloved ABBA songs “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Waterloo”.

“Elena encouraged us to have fun and have lots of joy throughout the finale,” shared Emma Schwind ’23, who will play the role of Rosie. “She encouraged us to improv choreography and think about the character we are playing.”

Ricardo spent time working one-on-one with Adriana Acevedo ’24 on the leading role. “The best piece of advice Elena provided me about playing Sophie is to remember the best type of Sophie to play is an authentic Sophie; the Sophie I find in myself,” Acevedo said. “To get to talk to a Broadway star about the character is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will value forever.”

Although the Marist School campus has changed since Ricardo graduated, she reflected that Woodruff Auditorium is “more my Marist than anything.” During her time working with students, Ricardo’s past teachers stopped by to give her a warm welcome and share appreciation for her time working with current students.

“Those of us who knew and directed Elena were honored to have her in the room,” Mr. McNaughton said, “She encouraged the tradition of excellence that has been our way for over 30 years.”

“Mamma Mia!” runs March 22-25 in Woodruff Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. with an additional show at 2 p.m. on March 25. Tickets will be available on The Nest beginning March 13. View photos from Ricardo's visit here.

Marist School

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An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers