Review Roundup: MAMMA MIA! at Connecticut Repertory Theatre; What Did The Critics Think?
Connecticut Repertory Theatre presents the first production of the 2019 Nutmeg Summer Series: "Mamma Mia!," the Tony Award-nominated musical based on the songs of ABBA.
The cast includes Broadway actors Jessica Hendy(Broadway's "Cats," "Aida"), Jennifer Cody(Broadway's "Shrek", "Urinetown" & CRT's "Noises Off"), Lauren Blackman(Broadway's "Anastasia"), and Bradley Dean(Braodway's "The Last Ship", "Dear Evan Hansen"). As previously announced, Terrence Mann will direct with choreography by Mary Ann Lamb and Jessica Walker. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale at crt.uconn.edu or 860-486-2113.
Let's see what the critics have to say?
Stephanie Santillo, The Daily Campus: Directed by Terrence Mann with choreography by Mary Ann Lamb and Jessica Walker, the CRT's production of "Mamma Mia!" got toes to tap and hearts to melt. Energetic renditions of catchy ABBA songs like "Lay All Your Love on Me" and "Does Your Mother Know" incorporated a large ensemble of dancers and singers to turn these numbers into elaborate theatrical productions that were fun to see. Specifically, the ensemble's kickline while wearing flippers during "Lay All Your Love on Me" was entertaining and showcased the effort and dedication that the cast and producers put into the show.
Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant: Every number, every scene, is unnecessarily busy. Why does Donna need to sort a pile of hats while singing the winsome "The Winner Takes It All"? Why are warm moments upended by sight gags involving props being thrown and caught across the stage?Jukebox musicals certainly have their drawbacks, but there are many fine examples of the form, and "Mamma Mia" is among the most popular. The key to the show, which is also the key to ABBA's music, is to be buoyant and cheery and funny without showing how intricate the harmonies or how deep the lovelorn themes can be. This production doesn't seem to care about the quality of the singing, which dooms it from the start. But that, unfortunately, is far from its only problem.
Tim Leininger, OnStage Blog: What makes this production of "Mamma Mia!" enjoyable is total commitment of the cast, particularly the women in the show, to the absurdity of ABBA's music being part of its narrative. From the beginning, when McCarty arrives by boat singing "I Have a Dream" and sings "Honey, Honey" with her two friends Ali (Torie D'Alessandro) and Lisa (Helen Shen), she jumps headfirst into the total cheesiness of the show. The same goes with Hendy's Donna and her friends Tanya (Lauren Blackman) and Rosie (Jennifer Cody). The three women all dive into their roles with a delicious glee that in almost any other musical would feel excessive.
Joseph Harrison, BroadwayWorld: MAMMA MIA! is an interesting musical in many ways. It was one of the first mega-hit jukebox musicals that spawned so many others, good and not-so-good, and one that audiences couldn't get enough of. The simple plot, the use of familiar and fun music, and the scenic placement of the plot added up to a huge hit. In CT Rep's production - all of these elements are present and more. Under Terrence Mann's nimble direction - the excitement never stops. One scene easily flows into another with energetic transitions that create a feeling of movement that keeps the audience engaged. In less skilled hands, this could add up to confusion, but Mr. Mann does a great job crafting the story with his nimble cast.
Christine S. Bexley Hamlet Hub: Suspend any pretense of Mamma Mia having lingering gravitas and substance. This is pure kaprítsio, complete with a gorgeous nightmare ballet, granny witchery, instant weddings, and candles that can wave over heads without dripping. Incredible! Come to escape the actual heat, or take a breather from life's stressors. Dance in the aisles, sing along during company bows, appreciate how a production can work so seriously hard to create something so cheerfully light, and know that with a bit of rock music, everything is fine.