What happens when you take a Greek island, a big wedding, a mother, her hilarious friends, a daughter, and three potential fathers? I’ll give you a hint. It’s Mamma Mia! Mamma Mia debuted is a musical that incorporated ABBA songs into a playful plot. The musical was composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and the written by Catherine Johnson. It was first performed in 1999 and has debuted on Broadway in 2001 and has had a record breaking run. It is now on its Farewell tour after 16 years. It has also been adapted into a movie.
The production starts with Sophie, the daughter, played by Lizzie Markson, sending invitations to her wedding to the three men that may be her father. What follows is a whirlwind of activity punctuated by numerous musical and dance numbers. Sophie has a very good voice but there was a point in the high notes when her voice seemed off. The best voice in my opinion belonged to Betsy Padamonsky, playing Donna. She was able to hit all of the notes in the songs and hold the notes. Her rendition of The Winner Takes It All was powerful and emotional. When the three friends, Betsy Padamonsky, Cashelle Butler, and Sarah Smith, sang Super Trouper their voices harmonized and blended well. The chorus provided a comical addition with their presence especially in Mamma Mia when they poked their heads out from behind the door at several points.
One of the high points of the performance was the dancing. From Lay All Your Love On Me to Voulez-Vous. The choreography, done by Anthony Van Laast, was very good and the execution spot on. In Lay All Your Love On Me, the boys come in wearing flipper and start dancing. Not only did none of them trip they danced like they didn’t have any on. In swim team they tell everyone not to walk in flippers because it is dangerous, dancing seems out of the question but they prove it can be done. In Voulez-Vous, the entire chorus and cast are on stage dancing and singing. All the dancers were on time and in sync leaving a very sophisticated looking product.
One interesting contrast was the costumes at different points of the show. Ron Glow, the used them to differentiate between different points in the show. At the beginning everyone was wearing simple, casual outfits with a blue theme. At Sophie’s bachlorette party the mood changed as the outfits became sparkly and a little sexy. At the end of the show the outfits were for the majority pink and more formal. The contrast of the different times augmented the show without being overstated.
Mamma Mia combined well know, upbeat songs with a sweet, funny story to end with a show that left you feeling good. The entire production was cohesive and professional while remaining light and friendly. Mamma Mia made you want to become the dancing queen and was definitely the winner who took it all.