BWW Reviews: MAMMA MIA! Brings Fun to Durham

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The national touring company of Mamma Mia! made a brief pit-stop in the Triangle last weekend, doing several performances at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The show closed out the 2013-2014 theater season at DPAC.

Mamma Mia! follows the unlikely tale of Sophie Sheridan, age 20, who is about to be married. Never knowing her father, Sophie peeks in her mother's journals only to realize that there are three men who could be her father. Hoping to be given away by her dad, she invites all three to the wedding, and you can probably guess the crazy things that happen from there. Her mother, Donna, is joined by her two best friends and former back-up dancers, and they get into their own hijinks as well. While not a particularly deep or thrilling plot, it is the stuff romantic comedies are made of. The fluffy, feel-good left audiences smiling.

The upbeat characters and story are matched by the music. Mamma Mia! is well-known largely due to the use of the ABBA catalog for the show's music. Though ABBA music is not a particular draw for me personally, the audience in general enjoyed the musical numbers, even to the point of clapping along to Rosie's big number "Take a Chance on Me." Though some of the songs fit in okay with the plot of the story, the characters of Donna and her two best friends are themselves performers - the characters performing is the loophole through which the creative team was able to include some other songs, like "Super Trouper." In addition, a dream sequence allows the inclusion of still other songs that don't necessarily advance the plot but are memorable parts of the ABBA canon. My personal favorite, "Fernando," didn't make the cut, though Donna whistles it at one point.

The cast is comprised of talented singers and dancers, though the women far outshine the men. The former members of "Donna and the Dynamos," Georgia Kate Haege, Gabrielle Mirabella, and Carly Sakolove stand out at Donna and her best friends Tanya and Rosie. Their energy fuels the show. While the leading men often seemed like the music was just a tad out of their range or skill level, the ladies nailed it. The ensemble kept up high levels of energy throughout the show throughout big dance numbers.

While the Mamma Mia! is not the most cerebral production to tread the boards of Broadway, it offers a fun night of singing and dancing.

For more information, visit the tour's website or www.dpacnc.com.

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Larisa Mount Larisa has been a Broadway fan since before she can remember. When she's not teaching kindergarten, she's seeing every show possible! Her three favorite shows are Hair, Spring Awakening, and In the Heights.


 
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