Through January 28|
MAMMA MIA! Kavinoky Theatre
It’s no secret the Swedish group wasn’t popular with everyone, although “Dancing Queen” was popular and remains so.
Working with music and lyrics from ABBA members, Catherine Johnson put together “Mamma Mia!,” an international hit and so much of a movie hit that the retreads in Hollywood decided on a sequel which is due out imminently, with much of the same cast.
The show actually has some social content, but it’s mostly a jukebox musical of ABBA material.
It’s an opportunity for a director and cast on stage to put on a wonderful production and that’s what’s going on in the Kavinoky Theater, under the baton and choreography of expatriate Lynne Kurdziel Formato.
The show also benefits from great costume design from Jessica Wegzyrn and the latest stage of Kavinoky impresario David Lamb’s long interest in electronics for theater, an enormous LED screen looming over David King’s set of a Greek Isle and its taverna.
It’s a key to telling the story.
The taverna belongs to Donna Sheridan (Debbie Pappas Sham), with her daughter Sophie (Arianne Davidow) helping.
She’s fallen in love with Sky (William Hin) and they’re getting married on the beach.
Donna has invited her old girls’ group partners Tanya (Lisa Ludwig) and Rosie (Loraine O’Donnell), all from Donna and the Dynamos.
Sophie has also invited some guests, without telling Mom, the three bed partners of her mother 20 years before, one of whom is undoubtedly her father.
They aren’t told the invitation is an audition to show who is Dad, architect Sam Carmichael (Peter Palmisano), banker Harry Bright (Doug Weyand) or world traveler writer Bill Austin (Matt Witten).
It all has a nearly Shakespearean ending of tying up the loose ends, although without the blood of “Hamlet.”
All of this is told to the pounding music from a large off-stage orchestra and the horde of singers and dancers (I don’t know what the budget is for this show.), with some wondrous work.
It’s songs like “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” Donna, Tanya and Rosie with the female ensemble for “Super Trouper” and later on, Sam with “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” Donna and Sophie with “Slipping Through My Fingers” and Rosie and Bill with “Take A Chance on Me.”
There are also the bows from the entire cast with “Mamma Mia,” Donna, Taya, Rosie and company with “Dancing Queen” and some really shiny costumes and a rousing “Waterloo” from everyone.
I didn’t go into this with any great hopes and I still have no strong feelings for ABBA.
But, it’s a great show with a great ensemble filled with people who danced for Kurdziel Formato on those Caribbean cruise ships and great performances from a strong group of local performers in the lead roles.
“Mamma Mia!” is worth the money for tickets, especially look at a Greek isle and its sand when we look out to snow drifts.
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