BWW Review: MAMMA MIA! at Albuquerque Little Theater
So, you want to marry the love of your life on a Greek isle at your Mom's dilapidated hotel and you're not sure who your Dad is - so you read Mom's diary and realize there's three potential Dads - what's a girl to do? If you're Donna's daughter Sophie, you drop three letters in the mail and invite them all to the wedding - what else would you expect from a musical comedy?
Mamma Mia! tells this really far-fetched story through the music of '70s supergroup ABBA and every time I see it it gets lighter and fluffier. I wondered how it would fare at the local theater level - I had seen several Broadway touring companies of the show over the last decade or so, and Albuquerque Little Theater rose to that challenge. The production had all the elements needed for a fun night at the theater - great music, dead-on casting, wonderful performers with legit voices and dance moves and a happy ending.
Some standouts include the trios - Sophie and her Bridesmaids (Arianne Cohen, Dru Martinez and Evie Long), Donna and her Dynamos (Amy Poland, Jillian Foster and Laura Nuzum) the Potential Dads (Ron Gallegos, Nicholas Handley and Mark Pino) and Sky and his groomsmen (Jesse Miller, Kale Brown and Bradley Fuller). All three groups have chemistry with each other that weave through to the ensemble. The only place where a little more chemistry could be used is between the Sophie and Sky, who are a little clumsy with one another.
Kudos to choreographers Dru Martinez and Kale Brown for not only staging great dance numbers, but fitting a giant ensemble on the stage without it looking overcrowded. The big stars of the night were Amy Poland as Donna, Ron Gallegos as potential dad Sam and the amazingly uplifting music of ABBA. It's almost an overwhelming amount of musical numbers - 25 and three more encores! - but they're all so catchy and well-staged that the audience seems to get more energized with each one.
More kudos to the technical staff - the set, lighting and costume design were all incredibly professional and well-executed - the use of large turning set pieces to construct different areas of the hotel was a smart move that pays off by keeping the action moving. ALT is also upping its sound game - this show had much better balance between voices and music, although I would have preferred a live orchestra to recorded music (I know, it's community theater, but a girl can dream).
This is the second show I have seen at ALT, but I will definitely be back for more. This company is obviously dedicated to its craft and to its space - one of the oldest theaters west of the Mississippi. Mamma Mia! runs through November 13 - tickets can be purchased at www.albuquerquelittletheater.com