Rachel Edwards (left) of Appleton follows along with McKenna Hansen, 15, of Richard's School of the Dance as the Mamma Mia! Community Flash Mob performs Saturday in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center lobby in downtown Appleton. The event was part of a two-day open house celebration of the facility's 10th anniversary. / Ron Page/The Post-Crescent
APPLETON — Within a couple of beats, about 75 dancers found their groove Saturday during a “Mamma Mia!” flash mob in the lobby of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.
Lead dancers burst onto the floor with a choreographed routine to the ABBA song “Mamma Mia!” and then were joined by community members for the song “Dancing Queen.” The hits are featured in the popular stage musical “Mamma Mia!” that will return to the PAC for a six-day run starting Tuesday.
The flash mob was planned as part of a two-day open house to celebrate the PAC’s 10th anniversary.
Some of the dancers had rehearsed for weeks, but others, like 73-year-old Rachel Edwards of Appleton, learned the moves on the fly Saturday morning.
“I read about it in The Post-Crescent, and I just thought, ‘When else am I going to have a chance to do a flash mob?’” Edwards said. “So here I am.”
Edwards tried to convince her grandchildren to join the flash mob, but that was a lost cause. “They were too shy,” she said.
Jamie Halmstad of Oshkosh watched his 12-year-old daughter Morgan perform a sequence of claps, step kicks and hip movements as part of the flash mob. He had no desire to join her.
“I thought it might be too embarrassing if I did it,” he said.
Halmstad’s 15-year-old son, Bronson, also was content on the sideline. “I don’t dance,” he said.
Nine-year-old Baylee Cottrell of Oshkosh does, and she knew all of the moves of the routine before arriving Saturday.
“She’s had her friends over to practice, so we’ve kind of seen it at home already,” said her mother, Nan Cottrell. “This is the first time she’s ever been in a flash mob, so it’s big, big news. It’s really exciting.”
Tricia Bayer, owner of Richard’s School of the Dance in Oshkosh, choreographed the routine and led participants through a practice 30 minutes before the flash mob took over the PAC lobby.
Bayer also had posted an instructional video on YouTube 10 days ago to teach participants the moves.
The flash mob was among a host of activities held at the PAC for the anniversary celebration. Attendees drew on sidewalks with chalk, listened to piano recitals or savored ice cream.
Emalee Funk, 10, of Appleton, tried her hand at a bass guitar during Heid Music’s instrument petting zoo. At first she was reluctant to pluck the strings. By the time she left, she had played so much that her fingers were sore.
“It was really awesome,” she said.
Cheryl Kolosso of Appleton came to check out what’s behind the curtains at the PAC. She and her husband attend events at the PAC once or twice a year. She’s seen “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Mamma Mia!”
“We’ve never been backstage to see what it looks like,” she said.
— Duke Behnke: 920-729-6622, ext. 32, or email@example.com