At The Bar with Mamma Mia Musical Lead Elise McCann

Actress Elise McCann returns to the stage to perform as Donna in the Australian tour of Mamma Mia the Musical. It’s not the first time she’s relived an ABBA moment; having joined the cast for the 10th anniversary season back in 2009.

“I never imagined I’d get to come back and do it all again, let alone as the lead role,” says Elise McCann.

“I love the show because it’s high energy, joyous, optimistic, full of humour and heart. I love that it centres around women, friendship and family,” says McCann.

Singing 11 songs eight times a week means McCann is on stage 90% of the production. It’s no easy task, but one McCann is thrilled to take on with gusto.

“I feel really lucky that I have a history with this show. It means I have an understanding of the dynamics, tension and heart of the piece, so preparing to play the role felt more achievable,” says McCann.

Away from theatre she has joined forced with actress Lucy Durack to create Hey Lemonade – an app that’s designed to give you a pep talk without the banter.  

Lucy and I are both busy working professionals. We were looking for some additional support to manage the inevitable stress and overwhelm that we all experience living in the 21st century,” says McCann of the new wellness venture.

Hey Lemonade launched in November 2022, and in the last 12 months, was part of a peer review study with the CSIRO that found a four-week session can improve mood, stress and the ability to cope with general life hassles. The app gathers some of the finest pep talkers around and is written by some mighty names you can trust including actress Virginia Gay, Benjamin Law and Marieke Hardy.

“When we first founded the company, we were both juggling family and multiple careers. We were time poor and wanted to create something quick, pragmatic and grounded in evidence that would actually be useful and help us to keep going with our days,” says McCann.

“Lucy and I have often been each other’s cheerleaders and we are the pep talkers in our group of friends, so it’s been a natural progression to now do that as our business.”

McCann talks to The Write Drop about her favourite bar, dining memories in NYC, her go-to cocktail and a vegan wine from NZ that changed her tastebud perceptions of what it means to be organic.

FAVOURITE BAR

I have multiple joyous memories at the City Wine Shop in Melbourne.  It is this really sweet bottle shop, wine bar and bistro and sits right next to the Princess Theatre on Spring Street. The Princess has been my work home for so many important career milestones and this wine bar is my little celebration and commiseration spot. I have had countless glasses of wine post show, pre-show – celebrating openings, celebrating closings, meeting new people, catching up with old friends.  It is one of those beautiful bar’s that are simple but classy and it has been the location of so many important memories and moments in my life and career over the last few years.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

A citrus-spritz of some kind. I am a super sweet tooth human, but for drinks, I always go for citrus. I’d choose lemon, honey and gin (with a spritz of soda for some effervescent).

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

The first time I ate lobster in Portland Maine, USA circa 1995.  I was 10 years old and my mum just wanted me to try it and expand the tastebuds and I ended up devouring a 1kg lobster all by myself. The family thought twice about offering me expensive food after that.

In 2001 I visited Zanzibar on my way back from Africa and spent two hours in a spice market. I was only 16 on a school trip and remember the overwhelming smell and colour and vibrancy of the place. As I got older and started cooking, I began collecting my own spices. Now whenever I travel for work I bring my own spice collection with me.

My mum ran her own catering company while also being a nurse.  I have memories of coming home to slabs of caramel slice and peppermint slice, beautiful cakes and pies and just the most delicious baked goods covering our kitchen island bench. Mum was always making something – be it homemade chocolate fudge sauce, or beautiful baked goods or savory pasties and pies, or even just amazing gourmet sandwiches. Even now the smell of baked goods is so comforting to me (I mean it’s also delicious) because it reminds me of her and reminds me of these special treats and moments in our home.

 BEST BOOZE FREE DAY CHOICE

When performing, I am obsessed with coconut water as it is not only delicious but also an incredible hydrator.  However, in general one of my favourite things to drink is fresh grapefruit juice and soda water – it is tart, refreshing and delicious.

BEST OVERSEAS BAR

I lived in New York between 2018-2020. My friend Nisha was also studying and living there.  Another friend Ingrid was visiting and the three of us had a reunion at this really cute restaurant-bar called Niche Niche in a town house in Soho.  Niche Niche is like a dinner party where every night the menu and wine list changes.  The sommelier chooses the wine and that dictates the meal that is be cooked each night. From the moment we walked in we were handed a glass of wine specially chosen by the sommelier and then spent the night eating and drinking the most incredible four course meal all paired with curated wines. Downstairs was an amazing jazz bar. We spent the rest of the evening downstairs drinking whiskey and gin and listening to live music in this tiny room full of strangers.  I went back a couple of times over my stint in NYC and every time the experience was different because you have no idea what the wine list or menu will be until you get there.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

We just finished performing Mamma Mia in Brisbane and I went exploring with fellow cast member Deonne [she plays Tanya in the show] and we found a bar on the water.  It is called Mr Percival’s – it is super chill but has the most incredible view outside and inside has this really cool eclectic furniture, art and design. They have a delicious array of cocktails and wine and you can sit and watch the water and the sun set, or enjoy the mirrored bar and art indoors.  I love anywhere that has a vibe, so when savouring a drink, I look for somewhere I can have a whole experience and Mr Percival’s has all of that but in a super relaxed way.

 A WINE YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO LOVE

One of my dear friends Lucy Maunder, who has excellent taste for wine, bought me a bottle of vegan friendly, organic wine for my birthday called Muddy Water. It is from NZ and is a skin ferment white blend. Had it not been Luce that bought it for me, I would never have tried it. It is absolutely delicious.  It sounds a little funky, but it is super clean and seriously good.

 

 

 

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