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Guest Blog: MAMMA MIA!’s Thomasina Gross

I am ecstatic to be back in my hometown of Chicago with the Broadway touring company of MAMMA MIA! Ever since I learned the Windy City would be on our 2011-2012 Season, I knew that this week would represent a dream come true.

As a youngster growing up in the inner city, I was molded by this towering city, all the while guided by hopeful, supportive parents who fought hard to show me a better life outside of our tough neighborhood. With their encouragement, I would go on to attend music and dance classes, eventually studying at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. The lessons I learned there impact me to this day.

Chicago is also home to my commercial career… It is here that I began working in television, creating a foundation that has allowed me to succeed in the extremely competitive atmosphere of Los Angeles, where I’ve booked appearances on programs like Fox’s GLEE. Ironically, Chicago also launched my stage career, which lead me far from home and has taken me not only all over the U.S, but all over Europe as well. So it is such a gift to step on the stage of the historically restored Oriental Theater, where legends have performed in front of my family, friends and teachers. It feels like a celebration that’s come full circle.

In Mamma Mia!, I am in the ensemble and understudy the role of Ali, one of Sophie’s best friends. Being in this enormously popular musical is rewarding in a million different ways:  I get to travel. I do what I love 8 shows a week. And I’ve inherited a talented, multi-cultural cast as my second family, people I learn from and can rely on. Touring is such an eye opening experience.

I hope you enjoy the show as much as I enjoy performing it for you. And for the record, my favorite part of the musical is rocking out in the finale in a big Abba medley we like to call “the mega mix”. The rush I get when the audience gets on its feet, waving feather boas and wearing sequins, singing the songs word for word, is a moment that defies description.

All in all, not a bad way to make a living.

Thomasina Gross

MAMMA MIA! plays the Oriental Theatre January 24-29, 2012. Click here or call 800-775-2000 for tickets.