Meet Donna of Mamma Mia: Jen Burleigh-Bentz

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Jen answered some engaging questions about Donna and herself this week.


Rumor has it that you’re from New York, how did you hear about Mamma Mia! in Duluth?

  • I am NOT from New York – I live in River Falls, WI, own and operate Brickhouse Music, a full-line music store there ( I DID live in New York while I was in Mamma Mia! at the Winter Garden Theatre, but have been in River Falls (about 30 min east of St Paul) since, mostly performing in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, except for a few tours. I saw the auditions for the Norshor Mamma Mia! with the Duluth Playhouse on, and as my father is originally from Duluth, thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the area while working – IF I could get the job. Thank goodness, Christine and Michael Matthew Farrell took a chance on me (pun intended).

What’s your favorite part about being here?

  • So far it is NOT the weather. However, the weather has not been much better back home! There’s a distinctly different vibe up here that I really love – I’m still not sure yet what it is – perhaps being on the Lake is part of it, perhaps the inspiring amount of art and community support is part of it, and I am SURE that the wonderful people involved in the making of the Norshor‘s first musical are part of it! I can easily say that one lovely aspect of being in Duluth is that I felt a warm welcome immediately, and that is not always the case.

What other roles have you been involved in?

  • MY. I’ve been around the block a few times, so a lot. Some of my favorites are Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Queenie in Wild Party (Lippa), Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Snow White in Disenchanted, Laverne Andrews in Sisters of Swing & Christmas of Swing, Judy & Garland in Beyond the Rainbow, Swing for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Tanya in Mamma Mia! and Rosie in Mamma Mia!, etc.

Where do you think theater will be in 3030?

  • 3030, huh? As I’m really trying to make sure that I make it through 2018, I’m not certain that I’m qualified to answer that question… Hopefully, theater in 3030 will still include the Classics, Experimental, New Works, and everything in between. I think that life without Theater would not be a life well lived, so I believe that on some level, it will survive whatever is thrown at in the next 1012 years.

What’s your go-to song? And why?

  • My general answer would be, “that depends on what genre we’re talking about.” As in – Karaoke? Classic musical audition? Pop musical audition? Legit musical audition? Character song? My specific answer would be (maybe…depends on my mood…):
  • ‘Spark of Creation’ from Children of Eden – it’s quick, shows you can articulate, relate emotionally, be funny and belt.
  • ‘Words He Doesn’t Say’ from Romance, Romance – it’s warm, sweet, poignant, shows vulnerability and passion (and it’s a gender switch – normally sung by a man).
  • ‘Someone Else’s Story’ from Chess – great story song (if you make it your own), shows strong belt, low notes, ability to feel “behind the eyes”, also great “chapter song” -as though the singer can relate a full chapter of a book through the song.
  • “No Good Deed” from Wicked – enough said. Too long of a song for an audition, but for whatever reason, I’ve performed it. A lot.
  • “Let it Go” from Frozen – see above.

Thank you for having me on your blog! I can’t wait for Duluth to see how amazing their very own peeps are in Mamma Mia! at the NorShor!

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Sneak Peek into rehearsal for Mamma Mia!  | Photo by: Crimson Clear Productions