ELKO – The theater department at Great Basin College is known for tackling major performances. Over the years the program, under the direction of John Patrick Rice, has staged hits like “Les Miserables,” “She Kills Monsters” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

Rice believes he has produced about 75 to 80 plays over the course of his time at GBC.

“I’ve done about four a year except during an eight-year period when I was in administration,” Rice said.

When asked about what keeps him going Rice replied, “My agent told me years ago that an actor is only as good as the last gig [he’s done.] What has motivated me all along is to try to top everything we’ve done in the past.”

“Mama Mia!” is a romantic comedy with a musical score performed by the popular Swedish rock band ABBA. The plot involves a young bride-to-be who secretly invites three men who might be her father, according to her mother’s diary.

“I am really excited about this play because I grew up with ABBA,” actress Meghan Micheli said. “I saw a live production in Lubbock.”

Micheli has been a prominent figure on the Elko theatrical scene. She studied acting and took vocal lessons starting at 6 years old.

The production includes a cast of about 20 people; a mix of GBC students and community actors.

Laura Cdebaca is the choreographer for the play that involves some physically challenging dance moves.

“This has been the most athletic choreography we have ever had,” Rice said. “The music is far more complicated than “Les Mis.” It’s a rock show and everyone knows it, so there is an expectation that we have to meet and hope to exceed. ”

Besides the large acting crew, Walt Lovell leads an 11-person orchestra. Gail Mierens is the vocal director. About another half dozen people are working backstage to keep the lights running and the action moving along.

Rice said his career and technical education students built the set that includes a white villa and a dock reaching out into the audience. The scene is right out of a picture book of the Greek Islands.

Rachel Sturkie, a GBC student, plays the part of Ali, one of the bridesmaids.

“I have been doing theater since high school,” Sturkie said. “I was in the last production, ‘She Kills Monsters.’ I played Tilly Evans, one of the two girls.”

Sturkie said the work is exciting but also a little stressful.

“I got tickets for my family yesterday,” Sturkie said. “It was hard to get tickets in the right spot so they can see me. The center is mostly filled out.”

Rice feels this show will be sold out and recommends buying advanced tickets during regular hours at Berg Hall.

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