Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review of Mamma Mia! by Holly W.

I had a real treat when my friend and I decided on a whim to see Mama Mia! this week at the Orpheum. I’ve been to several shows at this downtown landmark, and every experience has been a blast. The historic setting immediately puts me in the mood for “the theatre” and I always feel like I’m having a big night on the town, whether it’s a Broadway musical or a summer evening movie night. Mama Mia! was no exception.

The first thing I noticed about this show was the attitude of the performers. Their energy was infectious, and they were obviously having a great time. This musical is light, fun, and a little campy, and the cast goes over the top to entertain through great songs, dancing, and plenty of humor. There’s usually one character or performer in a show that stands out to me as the scene-stealer, but I can’t pick just one from Mama Mia!

Chloe Tucker, who plays the youthful and charming Sophie, appealed to me immediately. You’ll find out that Sophie is hoping to discover the identity of her father before her upcoming wedding, and the suspense of this narrative carries the show. Her mother is the free-spirited Donna played by Kaye Tuckerman. Her voice along with her dance moves make every song a seamless performance, especially the show’s catchy eponymous tune. Sophie’s three possible fathers are comprised of a British gentleman, a swaggering Aussie author, and an American architect with a quick wit. Donna’s irreverent friends and Sophie’s fiancé and his mischievous pals all provide of range of comedic styles from slapstick to sarcasm that had the multi-generational crowd laughing through the show. From a dream sequence involving scuba gear to a tastefully flirty bachelorette party, the sets and production complemented the tunes perfectly.

A highlight of the show featured Donna and the Dynamos—Donna and her two pals’ reunited singing group from “the old days”. This show-within-a-show element provided a vehicle for some of the crowd’s favorite songs (“Dancing Queen”) and all the sparkly, neon, Spandex costumes you could hope for. After the resolution (I was dying to find out which gentleman was Sophie’s father!) the cast brought us to our feet with a fun finale you’ll have to experience for yourself.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the show or the movie before, and I was only familiar with a few of the more popular songs. On the other hand, my friend has seen the show and the movie, and is a huge fan of the entire soundtrack. Since I had no expectations, and she had a lot of expectations, it was great to see how we both enjoyed the show. I would recommend it whether you’re a longtime ABBA fan or just are in the mood for something bright and uplifting. By the end, we were both tapping our feet and clapping along with the rest of crowd. The ensemble’s energy was relentless to the last bow, and I left the Orphem happy and humming. If you’re looking for something that will leave you in a fantastic mood, go see Mama Mia!

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