'Mamma Mia!' star recalls Broadway performances
"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," the sequel to the 2008 film adaptation of "Mamma Mia!" will hit movie theaters in late July. Before catching that movie, local fans of "Mamma Mia!" will have the chance to relive the original stage version, thanks to the Broadway Rose Theatre Company.
In Broadway Rose's production, the role of Donna — the show's matriarch — will be played by Peggy Taphorn. Based in Stanford, N.C., where she serves as artistic director at the Temple Theatre, Taphorn has been directing, choreographing and starring in the occasional Broadway Rose show since 2005.
Her first task at Broadway Rose: directing and choregraphing "Chicago." She had been recommended to Dan and Sharon Murphy, who run the theater company, by a mutual friend in the theater world.
"During the course of auditioning, we didn't quite find the perfect Velma for the show, and I had done that role many times," Taphorn recently recalled. "And so they said, 'Well, why don't you just do that role?' So I did, and I just fell in love with the theater and the area."
But before Taphorn brought her talents to North Carolina or to Broadway Rose, she was involved in a different Broadway — the one in New York City. She has five Broadway performing credits to her name.
"I was one of the lucky ones in New York," Taphorn said. "My advice to young people in theater is, never say 'no' to a job. If someone offers you a job, even if it's the third spear holder from the left, take it, because that's what happened to me."
Taphorn's route to Broadway started decades ago in Cleveland, where she took a small part in a production of "The Boys From Syracuse." George Abbott, the legendary Broadway director and producer, visited to direct the show as part of his 100th birthday celebration.
"The first read-through, he (Abbott) didn't take a shine to the girl who was playing the first female lead," Taphorn said. "Later that day, they asked me to come and read for the part."
She assumed she was reading to be an understudy, so she wasn't very nervous during the audition. So she was shocked — and pleased — when Abbott shook her hand and said, "Well, Peg, would you like the part?"
When Abbott later revived the musical "Broadway!" on Broadway, he brought Taphorn with him.
That led to four other Broadway performing credits: "Me and My Girl," "Showboat," "Smokey Joe's Café" and "Urinetown." Taphorn said that "Showboat" was probably her favorite production to be in, calling it "the most opulent, most extravagant" show.
"Everything was made for the individual actors, so I still have a lot of shoes for me from the original production," she added.
About 10 years ago, Taphorn decided to leave New York City for North Carolina on a whim, after a friend suggested she interview for the Temple Theatre job. She'd directed, choreographed and stage-managed a lot of shows in the city, and she was ready to make a move.
"I was lucky," she said about leaving New York. "I had achieved my goals."
But there was one regret — the "the Broadway show that got away," which she'd had 13 callbacks for but had never landed a role in. It was "Mamma Mia!"
Now, Taphorn is looking forward to taking on the role of Donna for Broadway Rose.
"I've been waiting a long time for this role, and I just love it," she said. "(Donna has) got a lot of heart and a lot of spunk, and she's not a typical leading lady."
And while she's in Oregon, Taphorn also will enjoy hiking, trying new restaurants, and exploring the growth in the area.
"I've made it my mission to visit as many local wineries as possible," she added with a laugh.
If you go
Broadway Rose will present "Mamma Mia!" from Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 22. Performances are held at the Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 S.W. Durham Road, Tigard. To view showtimes and purchase tickets, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.broadwayrose.org/" www.broadwayrose.org, call 503-620-5262, or visit the box office at 12850 S.W. Grant Ave., Tigard.