Take a chance on Mamma Mia!
“Mamma mia, here I go again; My, my, how can I resist you?”
The lyrics sound familiar, even if we don’t know where the song comes from. The songs in the show feel so familiar that most of us don’t remember when we first heard them.
Mamma Mia!, an Italian expression of surprise, is also a musical production that originally premiered in London. Recently, the musical has been reproduced in a film adaptation of the same name. The movie stars Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) and Amanda Seyfried (Mean Girls). Mamma Mia! was originally a song by Swedish musical group ABBA, which was very popular in the 1970s.
The oh-so-familiar lyrics and music in Mamma Mia! are composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the two Bs from ABBA.
Mamma Mia! is a story about 20-year-old Sophie, played by Rose Sezhiak in the touring production, who is trying to find her father to give her away at her wedding. Sophie doesn’t know who her father is, but she was able to narrow his identity down to three men — Sam Carmichael (John Hemphill), Bill Austin (Martin Kildare), and Harry Bright (Michael Aaron Linder) — by reading her mother’s (Susie McMonagle) diary.
Also coming to Sophie’s wedding are her mother’s best friends, Tanya (Michael Dawson) and Rosie (Kittra Wynn Coomer). Tanya is a well-off divorcee and Rosie is a still-single free spirit. Together, the characters attract a wide range of audiences, from a teenage girl to her mother.
But when the story centers around Donna (Sophie’s mother) and the unexpected arrival of three of her ex-flings and conversations with her best friends, the story loses its appeal to the younger audiences who can connect more with Sophie. At the same time, though, the older audience members didn’t seem to lose interest during Sophie’s heartfelt song over her fiance.
When Donna saw her three ex-summer-flings together at the same time, 20 years after they happened, it is reminiscent of the fun (but slightly embarrassing) past. The musical was written with a perfect awkward pause and comedic motion.
The music is based on hit songs of ABBA. Seeing a 40-something-year-old mother dance and sing in songs such as “Super Trouper” (or “Dancing Queen”) in her glowing silver, ruffled jumpsuit really put a smile on everyone’s faces. The dances were choreographed in the disco style, staying true to the era of the music.
Even if you are not able to understand artistically various aspects of Mamma Mia!, you will enjoy the story. The actors dance and sing their hearts out.
If the show weren’t carefree enough, just wait for the little surprise that comes at the end. Don’t hurry out when the curtain seems to be closing to avoid the human traffic out of the Benedum Center. There is a mini-concert where the cast comes out and dances, and the audience is also invited to stand up and dance. When they don’t need to act and follow the routines of the dance, all the cast members really seem to enjoy themselves.