Mamma Mia is the story of a young woman, Sophie (Chloe Tucker), who returns to a Greek Island the day before her wedding to discover the identity of her father. She sends out invitations to three men from her mother’s past who return after being away for 20 years. Her hope is to find out which of these men is really her father and to have him walk her down the aisle. But which man is it? Her mother, Donna, and owner of the hotel the men find themselves staying at (Kaye Tuckerman) isn’t sure herself which man is the dad. After all, it was a swinging summer and well, the answer is up in the air. As the men arrive with invitations in hand they have no idea why they’re really there. Once the cat is out of the bag, each assumes he is Sophie’s father. Sophie’s ‘aunts’, Rosie (Mary Callanan) and Tanya (Alison Ewing) are spitfires all on their own and add a certain spice and flair to the story that only they can deliver.
At its heart Mamma Mia is a light hearted story of family and friendship that spans the test of time. It is a celebration of life to the infectious songs of the mega 1970-1980’s super group Abba written by group’s songwriters Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus. What they have created with this musical is a roaring stomp your feet, sing along good time, shot back to the 70’s, silver go-go boots, white spandex and all. Twenty or so of Abba’s most popular songs are what really makes this musical a joy to experience. They fit incredibly well interwoven with the story that never seems to take itself too seriously. They are light-hearted, fun and bring back great memories to the audience. How do I know? By the endless sing-along, head bobbing and ‘good time had by all’ attitude in the theater, particularly during the last 20 minutes of the production when the entire cast comes on stage for a 70’s dance party.
Kaye Tuckerman (Donna) is a joy to watch and listen to. Her incredible powerhouse voice resonates every note of every song. There are quieter moments which she handles with grace and delicacy. Chloe Tucker (Sophie) is a great lead and very believable as the young lady ready to walk down the aisle. Paul Deboy (Harry), John-Michael Zuerlein (Bill), and Tony Clements (Sam) are the three possible dads’. Each actor brings his own flair to his role and is as different as the ocean is wide. Mary Callanan and Alison Ewing do steal every scene their in. Wonderful singers in their own right they each tackle these songs with a sparkle and wink in their eyes. I loved the ‘show’ scenes when along side with Donna they travel back to their glory days as a girls singing group. As wonderful as this cast is the real stars of the show are the songs. Abba is one the most successful singing groups of all time. And though you may not think you know any of their tunes I can guarantee you once the beginning bars begin, you will find yourself singing along. The songs include, “Dancing Queen,” “Take A Chance On Me,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and “Money, Money, Money,” and one of my personal favorites “S.O.S.” I actually had the 45rpm record of the song. Mark Thompson, the production designer, did a wonderful job on creating the seamless array of sets. Anthony Van Laast (choreography) has created dance numbers that are fun to watch and full of energy. They make you want to get up there on stage and dance yourself. Their synchronicity with the music is perfect. Howard Harrison’s lighting direction is a wonderful addition adding splashes of subtle color that make one feel like they are on the Greek isle. This Broadway production fairs much better than the film. The cast seems to genuinely enjoy performing this show and it shows. What more can an audience ask for?
If you are an ABBA fan this is one show that is not to be missed. We have all been invited to the wedding of the year. Mamma Mia won’t change your world with deep meanings or Broadway Drama. What it will do is make you laugh, dance, and have one heck of a good time.
Mamma Mia! ‘” Performances at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts are from July 19-24, 2011
Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 P.M. and Sunday evenings at 7:30 P.M. Matinee performances are Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 P.M. Tickets range from $27.25 to $73.25 and are now on sale at the Broward Center Box Office Monday through Friday 10AM-5PM, Saturday and Sunday 12 Noon- 5PM and 1 hours prior to show times; or on-line at www.browardcenter.org by phone 954-462-0222. Groups of 12+ are invited to call 954-626-7814 or 954-462-0222
Photo by Joan Marcus c 2010