Mamma Mia continues to dance its way into the hearts of audiences this month at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland. Running until September 8th, Mamma Mia is the story of a daughter’s quest to discover her father’s identity, which brings three very different men from her mother’s past back into her life. Baltimore OUTloud recently chatted with Baltimore-native Darren McDonnell who plays Harry Bright in the performance.
Frankie Kujawa: Could you describe your background as both a performer and Baltimore-native for our readers?
Darren McDonnell: I started doing theatre in grade school, then into high school and college. I also performed community theatre. That started at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre at Essex Community College in 1980. I’ve worked at many of the community theatres in Baltimore: Spotlighters, Vagabonds, Fells Point Corner, Dundalk Community Theatre, as well as the dinner theatres that were in the Baltimore area: F. Scott Black’s Towsontowne Dinner Theatre, Harborlights Dinner Theatre, Fells Point Dinner Theatre, Act Two Dinner Theatre, Timonium Dinner Theatre, and then other dinner theatres in the Washington / Northern Virginia area. I lived In New York for a spell and worked at several regional theatres on the East Coast and the Midwest. I did a national tour while living in NYC. I worked with people who have gone on and had quite the career on Broadway and TV. I still say it’s never too late!
What is your role of Harry Bright in Mamma Mia all about?
I am one of the “dads”. Harry is an old lover of Donna (the mother) and they met when Harry followed her all the way to Greece. I don’t want to give too much away, but Harry is from London and is a successful businessman. He isn’t as wild as he used to be. He’s pretty settled down, but really misses those wild days. The role is so much fun to play and the interactions between the three dads is great. Also, the interaction between Harry and Donna is sweet and poignant.
What can audiences expect from this performance?
We performed this show last summer to completely sold-out houses. It was decided to bring it back for a six-week run. We’ve added a few new people to the cast, and we can expect a musical with iconic songs and a very sweet story about all kinds of relationships!
What is it about Toby’s Dinner Theatre that makes it such a special place for audiences?
For one, Toby’s Dinner Theatre is the only remaining dinner theatre in the Baltimore / Washington / Northern Virginia area. It survived the test of time due to Toby and her vision, dedication and love of the theatre. What makes it special is being theatre in the round. It really can bring an audience to feel like they are part of something special. It’s fun and different to work in the round, it takes a bit of time to get used to it. Also, at Toby’s the production values are very high and the atmosphere is totally a professional one.
- Since 2011, arts writer Frankie Kujawa has covered a wide scope of entertainment stories and celebrity interviews. From the late Carrie Fisher and LGBTQ icon George Takei to comedians Lily Tomlin and Kathy Griffin to performer Idina Menzel, Kujawa’s candid interview ability brings readers past the byline and into the heart of the story. His unbiased previews of Baltimore-Washington’s theatre scene have allowed readers an inside glimpse of today’s most popular local and national performances. A Baltimore-native, Kujawa is proud to call Charm City his home.