Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Guest Columnist:

‘Mamma Mia!’ star Mary Callanan: ‘I am lucky enough to play one of my dream roles here in Las Vegas’


Erik Kabik / Retna /

Steve Judkins and Mary Callanan in “Mamma Mia!” at the Tropicana in May.

Click to enlarge photo

Alison Ewing, Christine Sherril and Mary Callanan in "Mamma Mia!" at the Tropicana in May.

‘Mamma Mia!’ at Tropicana

Alison Ewing, Christine Sherril and Mary Callanan in Launch slideshow »

‘Mamma Mia!’ Grand Opening at Tropicana

The official grand opening night of Launch slideshow »

As Robin Leach arrives for his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — he also visited Lake Como and Lake Maggiore this year — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Mary Callanan, who portrays “Rosie” in “Mamma Mia!” at the Tropicana.

I am lucky enough to play one of my dream roles here in Las Vegas: “Rosie” in “Mamma Mia!” now at the Tropicana. I get to play with old friends and new, sing one of pop music’s best songs, “Take a Chance on Me” and kiss a boy every night — nice work if you can get it!

I had the chance to play Rosie on the North American Tour from 2010-2012 with my friend Alison Ewing (who plays “Tanya”), where we got to see the U.S. and Canada. We have now gotten the chance to reprise our roles here in Las Vegas, and we’re having a blast.

Now touring is one thing; relocating is a different animal altogether. Touring means a week or two in a city, so you hit the hotspots, the museums, the it restaurants, the best blues band, bookstore and farmer’s market.

You live out of your suitcase, and you learn to become a gourmet cook with only a microwave and a coffee maker. You get a sense of the city, but you never outstay your welcome. Have a great time, take some pictures and move on.

Relocating requires moving boxes of your favorite possessions (clothing, books, kitchenware and pictures) — I think that I shipped 14 large boxes! — and putting them in your new home. Darn shame that I couldn’t fit my husband into any of those boxes. More on this later.

Now the tasks of relocating: the basics like finding the grocery store, a gym, the drug store, the nail salon (right?) and just what is the correct SPF here? (Is there a number comparable to complete blackout?!) And no relocation would be complete without the joy that is the DMV. I really feel that there is a one-woman show in “A Day at the DMV.”

We’ve now been here six weeks or so; the bags and boxes are emptied, pictures put up, dressing room decorated. Now what?

Routine becomes your friend here. Wake up, coffee and breakfast, then a phone call home to check on my husband’s day. (Note: As a lifelong Bostonian — go, Sox! — the three-hour time difference means scheduling phone time.)

Then it’s the gym or pool and what I call linner — late lunch/early dinner. Because our show time is 7:30 p.m., I don’t like to eat after 5. Then off to the theater to warm up or have a preshow rehearsal, do the show, then maybe a quick drink or bite with friends before home again. Oh, how glamorous show business is!

Of course, this is Las Vegas, and on our nights off I have seen amazing performances: “Ka,” Donny & Marie, “Rock of Ages,” Lionel Ritchie, “Vegas Nocturne” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. and countless bands and piano bar acts! Hopefully by the time my guest column runs, I will have finally ridden the High Roller at the Linq.

I also have had the pleasure of performing on the Dennis Bono radio show with our associate musical director Joey Singer and in a Rudy Foundation Benefit at “Mondays Dark” run by Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian. This is indeed a town full of endless performing opportunities.

Today, I am happy to say that I got my Las Vegas library card, so as of now I have officially relocated. Thanks for welcoming me, Las Vegas!

Check out our other guest columns today from Joe Moeller and Alison Ewing, two of Mary’s castmates in “Mamma Mia!,” and Sir Elton John’s partner David Furnish, who has opened the champagne lounge Fizz at Caesars Palace, and on Tuesday get ready for beautiful Tracey Gittins of “Fantasy” at the Luxor and the topless show’s comedian impressionist Sean E. Cooper.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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