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‘Larger than life’ local favorite Mary Callanan shines in ‘Mamma Mia’

June 22, 2012
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Published in Metro

The first time Mary Callanan saw “Mamma Mia!” she knew the role of Rosie was for her.

“Rosie is basically me with glasses,” says the Boston native. “She is very funny and a true-blue friend. She happens to sing in my register, which is always helpful. And she’s larger than life, as am I.”

It took six years, but Callanan landed the part. “Mamma Mia!” — the ever-popular musical based on Swedish pop group ABBA’s music — takes place on a Greek island, where Rosie comes to attend the wedding of her best friend’s daughter.

Callanan is somewhat of a celebrity within Boston’s the- ater scene. She’s performed in long-running local shows such as “Menopause: The Musical” and “Nunsense,” done productions with the Lyric Stage and SpeakEasy Stage, and starred in a successful cabaret act.

“I’ve been very lucky my whole career. I’ve been able to make a living and stay at home,” says the performer who grew up in Brighton. “Theater here is great for me.”

While many actors struggle to continue to work as they age, Callanan has had a different experience.
“When I was 20, I still looked 40. I played character parts, not young, leading ingenues,” she says. Now, she’s hit her prime. “I’m always working. Hooray for the character actor!”

‘Super Trouper’

Callanan has been traveling with “Mamma Mia!” for almost two years, but will be done in August. “That’s a good thing. I’d like to unpack a suitcase,” she says. “I’d like to open a cabinet and iron a shirt. It’s funny, but I’m looking forward to that.”

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