BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

Full disclosure. I have never seen the film or the Broadway production of "Mamma Mia." Honestly I am glad I hadn't. I didn't know anything about this show besides it is set in Greece and was filled the music of ABBA. Born a kid during the 70's, those tracks were playing during some memorable times. Red Mountain Theatre Company's fun filled production as my first "Mamma Mia" memory is something I will always look back on a smile. This show captures joy and puts it up in a disco ball, shining for all to share.

The easy breezy, sit-com like plot is set at a lovely island villa off the coast of Greece. Love struck 20-year-old Sophie (Maya Musial) is set to marry to her perfect beau Sky (Adam Maggio). Sophie's headstrong mom Donna (Natalie Collins) owns the villa, and owns a heavy burden of not knowing who is Sophie's father. (Cue the Maury Povitch Show music). Determined to find and invite her dad to the wedding, Sophie swipes her mom's diary for clues. She discovers just how fast and free her mother was in 1979. The diary reveals hints toward three men that could possibly be her dad. Englishman Harry (Keith Cromwell), a former metal rocker now turned posh banker. Australian adventurer and writer Bill (William Green), and Sam (Kyle Holman), the heart-breaking architect who received Donna's "I never want to see you again" wrath. Pretending to be her mom, Sophie sends them each an invitation to visit. Donna's (Collins) charismatic "besties" and former band mates arrive for the wedding. A bold and beautiful Rosie (Toy Matthews) and sassy and spicy Tanya (Kristi Tingle Higginbotham).

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

This impressive cast brings much life into the spirit of each character. The chemistry between everyone shines and makes the roles even more enjoyable. As they all arrive at the villa, the sparks light off this a firecracker of a show. Donna (Collins) is caught in a comical perfect storm of previous suitors as Sophie (Musial) is trying to find the truth about her dad and herself.

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

The headliner of the show is the timeless and dance inducing music by ABBA. Growing up as a kid of the 70's and 80's, ABBA was a heavy part of the tapestry of pop music. " Dancing Queen", "Lay Your Love on Me", "Take a Chance on Me", and of course "Mamma Mia." I loved hearing those songs performed by the talented singers on stage. Judging from the cheerful voices of the audiences singing along, I was not the only one. The musical numbers are orchestrated creatively to emphasize the moments in the story. This is not a karaoke musical revue. It is a fun musical in sight, song and feelings. The story by Catherine Johnson structures the memorable song lyrics as the actors dialogue. It's impressive and smoothly implemented.

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

Director Henry Scott sets an impressive tone bringing this ensemble to life. From stem to stern the production fills up the beautiful stage with vibrant energy. His fluid choreography delivers expressive motion while capturing the emotions of the moment. Music director Katie Holmes delivers pop perfection in the musicians and singers. Brad Cozby's lighting washes the island in beautiful colors of the Greek isles. The detailed set with Mediterranean charm successfully utilizes the big stage to provide multiple locations quickly.

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

Red Mountain Theatre Company's executive director Keith Cromwell dives back on the stage in the role of Harry. This musical has a very special connection to him. After the 9/11 tragedy he, like many others was struck with profound sadness. Elated relief was found in attending "Mamma Mia" on Broadway. Cromwell reflects "This show is an opportunity for an escape from the rigor of the daily news and tumultuous times." Cromwell is always driven to give Birmingham the best theater, especially now. ""Mamma Mia" uses theater for one if its best attributes as escape into laughter, fun and in this case familiar music that just gets you moving and smiling."

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

I was curious to know what is it about the role of Harry that brings him back up stage after so many years. Cromwell shares "I don't have kids and always wanted them. Some say at RMTC I am father or dad to many. This show touches me in that way. Here are three men, all inspired to be Sophie's Dad. I love that Harry is trying to reclaim a freer time in his life that enjoyed more spontaneity. I turned 55 last week and I wanted that same thing; to reclaim some spontaneity and also to put my self out there as scary as it is." Many people are not aware of Cromwell's lengthy acting career. "I think it's so funny when the Birmingham audience or especially the parents of the RMTC kids say "we didn't know you did that". I spent 20 years performing before I came to Birmingham in 2002. Its so good for me to challenge myself and take risks!"

BWW Review: MAMMA MIA Gets You Feeling Like a Dancing Queen at Red Mountain Theatre Company

"Mamma Mia" brings you touching ballads, tight harmonies and rocking dance numbers. The entire cast is beaming with much joy and pride in what they are doing up on stage. It's impressive production with vibrant energy. Audience erupts into cheers and applause during each of the chart topping hits by ABBA. Looking around the audience you can see faces enjoying the production and the memories in the music.

Red Mountain Theatre Company

"Mamma Mia"

Director - Henry Scott

Music director - Katie Holmes

Choreographer - Henry Scott

Scenic and lightning design - Brad Cozby

Production stage manager - James Gibbs

Sophie - Maya Musial

Donna - Natalie Collins

Harry - Keith Cromwell

Sam- Kyle Holman

Rosie - Toy Matthews

Bill - William Green

Tanya - Kristi Tingle Higginbotham

Sky - Adam Maggio

Lisa - Caroline Game

Pepper - Marcus Gladney

Ali - Ann Marie Meeker

Eddie - Royzell Walker

Ensemble:

Aidan Alford, Catherine Champion, Michael A. Charles, Caleb Clark, Emma Cooper, Emma Claire, Hanna Kuykendall, Nick McCarthy, Darius Marshall, Katherine Overturf, Sam Purkey, Jared Max Wright (dance captain),

July 13th - Aug 5th

Tickets and info at redmountaintheatre.org or (205) 324-2424

Tickets start at $25

Red Mountain Theatre Company

The Dorothy Jemison Day Theater at Alabama School of Fine Arts

800 19th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203

Some construction is in the area so be mindful of extra time to park

Photo credit: Stewart Edmonds



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