BWW Reviews: MAMMA MIA! Still the Reigning Dancing Queen
54 million people can't be wrong. That is the number of people that have seen the worldwide hit musical Mamma Mia since it debuted in 1999. The nearly sold out crowd in Ames this past Sunday night are now counted among those millions of fans.
Set on a Greek island and featuring the songs of 70s Swedish pop group ABBA, Mamma Mia uses a wedding as the jumping off point for a plot involving a daughter, her mother and her three possible fathers. Despite the fact that the show is going on twenty, the show does not show its' age. While the show does take place in what is ostensibly real time, it is really more like a fantasy world. You will not find intrusions from the outside world, just bright colors and catchy tunes against the sun and sand.
Mamma Mia works so well because it seamlessly utilizes the ABBA songbook. From the title song to "Dancing Queen" and "Thank You for the Music," the songs do not ever feel crammed in, as if the writers simply wanted to get a certain number of songs in the show. Rather, each song makes sense with the scene. "Take a Chance on Me," which plays out a one-sided courtship, stands out as one of the most fun.
The current touring cast does a nice job of keeping the show fresh, particularly Georgia Kate Haege and Chelsea Williams as mother and daughter duo Donna and Sophie. Between their vocal talent and acting abilities, they easily carry the show. Since Mamma Mia is a female-centric show it is not brought down by the rather robotic performances of the three leading men. All are capable, but there is room for more expression and emotion. The ensemble cast expertly executes the fast footwork and nicely provides vocal support.
Mamma Mia continues to see success because the show never purported to be anything other than a load of fun. High-energy singing and dancing combined with a breezy plot peppered with plenty of humor make Mammia Mia! a perfect musical escape. Check it out in a city near you!
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