I didn't want to like Mama Mia.
Not only is it an incredibly cheesy play, but I felt as though admitting to enjoying the show would be a major blow to my masculinity. However, even though Mama Mia presented several dislikable qualities, the overall hilarity and charm made it just too lovable. Mama Mia, as most people know, is the story of Sophie (Lizzie Markson) and Dona Sheridan (Betsy Padamonsky). Sophie, Dona's 20 year old daughter, never knew her father, so when she discovers the three men it could have been, she invites them all to her wedding, which is taking place a few days from the beginning of the show. Now Sophie must find out who her real father is while Dona has to cope with seeing them all again.
As I said earlier, Mama Mia had some downright disappointing elements. The first being the audio, which experienced several hiccups throughout the performance. I noticed several moments where the microphone of the speaking actor was either extremely low or completely off. Sometimes the tech crew seemed to overcorrect this problem mid-scene and all of a sudden the actor's voice would blare through the speakers. It began happening so often that I started counting. These particular microphone mishaps occurred six times and I probably didn't catch them all.
Another disappointing aspect of Mama Mia was some of the singing. Much of the music in the show comes from the band Abba, a pop band from the 70's and 80's. Because I am somewhat familiar with the original music (The Abba greatest hits CD seemed to be the only thing my mom used to play in the car), I was excited and expecting to hear the sparkling pop-disco that I heard for years. Unfortunately, some numbers were just Lizzie Markson with this strange nasal singing voice. Markson sang beautifully at times, but at other times I noticed this very nasal and downright annoying singing voice. I especially noticed this during "Honey Honey" and it really lowered my enjoyment of the number and all the numbers that included Markson's strange singing voice.
I must take this moment to remind you that I did in fact have an overall positive reaction to Mama Mia. If you're wondering how the show could redeem itself after I said it was at times disappointing, annoying, and dislikable, look no further than Sarah Smith, who played Rosie, a former member of Dona's old singing trio and comic relief. In my opinion, Sarah Smith stole the show. Whether she was diving face-first onto the bed in Dona's room, or doing a funny dance, Sarah Smith did a great job and the show couldn't have been the same without her. I also found that despite Lizzie Markson's shaky performance, the rest of the vocals were outstanding. "Dancing Queen" was done very well and I personally think it was sung better than Abba's original version. The voices Sarah Smith, Betsy Padamonsky, and Cashelle Butler (Tanya) blended very well together and it was a pleasure to listen to.
So in the end, even though I walked into the Orpheum on Tuesday night determined to hate the show, even though I was given many reasons to do so, and even though I realize a decent amount of testosterone will fade from my body by finishing this sentence, I must confess that, unfortunately, I enjoyed Mama Mia.