BWW Review: MAMMA MIA, That's a Spicy Musical at Allenberry
Although it started on Broadway, ABBA's notorious jukebox musical MAMMA MIA (music and lyrics by ABBA's Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus) is, alas, better known to most people as a movie musical in which Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep sing. Why this didn't warn off the movie version of LES MIS, for which Russell Crowe ultimately apologized, from using the wrong cast for musicals, we'll never know, but the stage musical is miles away better work than is the film. If you've never seen anything of MAMMA MIA except for the film, it's a necessity to see Allenberry's MAMMA MIA! to see how it's really done.
Forget the plot. It's a silly "one of these three men is the girl's father but no one knows who!" plot that's so old it's threadbare. It exists only so the audience can wonder how ABBA's recorded works can be used to make the plot seem somewhat relevant. Or else it's there so self-proclaimed ABBA haters (who all hum "Dancing Queen" and "Fernando" when no one's looking because ABBA practically invented the earworm song) can pretend they're watching to follow the plot because you know they won't listen to ABBA without Serious Reason.
Lindsay Bretz-Morgan, an area stage veteran, borrows some of the moxie of her prior stage character Reno Sweeney to make her Donna Sheridan, former lead singer of Donna and the Dynamos, stand out as the original strong woman. From her first-act "Momma Mia" with the ensemble to her second-act "The Winner Takes It All" that nearly caused total audience meltdown when this reviewer heard it, Bretz-Morgan is all heart, soul, and lung power. Her Donna and the Dynamos moments, especially "Dancing Queen" and "Super Trouper," are equally powerful when combined with the vocal talents and costume-wearing superpowers of her old bandmates Tanya and Rosie (Manuela Hooper and Rebecca J. Bremer).
Ellen Diehl plays Donna's daughter Sophie, of unknown father, with an all-too-innocent flair, while Harry, Bill, and Sam, also known as Michael Beckstein, Ryan Boyles, and Adam Murray play the bewildered wedding invitees, who are Donna's former lovers, none of whom realizes that they might be Sophie's father. The three are delightful when chaos ensues when they piece together why they were invited by the bride-to-be, Sophie.
Kudos to Lindy Mack and his friends in the orchestra pit for their joyous and infectious musical work for the ABBA songs, and to Mary Butler George for some very fine vocal coaching for the ensemble and main singers. Through September 29,