BWW Review: MAMMA MIA at North Texas Performing Arts
Calling all Super Troupers! North Texas Performing Arts presents MAMMA MIA at Willow Bend Center of the Arts. ABBA's hits tell the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her birth father. The story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, creating an unforgettable show. A mother. A daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you'll never forget!
Plano audiences hustled their way to NTPA to catch the opening weekend of MAMMA MIA continuing through March 2nd. MAMMA MIA was a colorful, energetic party onstage at the Rodenbaugh Theatre during itsa lively matinee performance.
Karen Raehpour took to the stage as Donna and rocked the audience with her power house mezzo voice. Raehpour commanded the stage with her free-spirited energy and made the audience fall in love with her just like Bill, Harry and Sam did. Bill Austin, played by Bryan S Douglas, was a rugged and outdoorsy Aussie who was content enjoying the Grecian waters down by the taverna. Harry Albright, played by John C. Hogwood, was more sensitive and thoughtful to Raehpour's fleetingly happy, Donna. And Sam Carmimichael, played by Alex Rain, was the ultimate divorcee that had a difficult time of communicating his emotions. Together these three men perfectly played off one another's energy and sexual prowess towards Raehpour's Donna.
Donna's best friends Rosie and Tanya, played by Marilyn B. Twyman and Bonnie Grugle are Raehpour's perfect pairing. Grugle's Tanya is more cool and stylish while Twyman's Rosie is saucy and man hungry. With their talents combined these ladies power through every scene and musical number.
Sophie and Sky, played by Kally Duncan and Hunter Douglas, were two young and emotional lovers who only want what's best for their futures. Their chemistry was sweet and sensual and only for ages 18+. Duncan had great moments of discovery and musically she was the perfect Sophie for NTPA. Hunter Douglas' Sky was energetic and Ready to Play in a whole new world with Duncan. Douglas' performance was a pleasant surprise and perfectly countered Duncan. They reminded me what it was like to be so young and in love.
The ensemble included Katelyn Buchta, Hunter Douglas, Symin Garcia, Ray Govender, Bonnie Grugle, Debbie Haas, Nazin Hormozi, Lindsey Lintelman, Alex Sutherland, Victoria Villanueva and Hunter Wilkerson. As a whole the ensemble was choreographically on the same page but seemed to fall flat a couple times with harmony. Music direction by Nae Callihan struck a beautiful chord with the adults in the cast but seemed to allude some of the younger cast members.
The set design by Ryan Matthieu Smith and Alex Rain was rich in blue-green tones and had a wonderfully creative design. The taverna had Grecian elements in blues and white with florals that overall made for a very romantic set. Large scenic pieces were moved and arranged by cast members and created new and interesting tableaus within scenes. Overall the set design was lovely yet there was a large overhanging projector above the stage that was a bit of a distraction due to its size. There seemed to be a missed opportunity when using it for only a couple scenes, but when included in the overall set design it enhanced the visual appeal.
Costumes by Ryan Matthieu Smith and Lisa Rodenbaugh gave off a breezy vibe to all of the island inhabitants and the Super Trouper costumes were fabulous! I loved every inch of glittery spandex on that stage. Colors were taken into careful consideration for this production and it showed. The complementary contrast between costumes and set design really balanced out.
Choreography by Daniel Dean Miranda and Geena Ngaaje was energetic and modern. Expect a more millennial hustle within dance numbers. Each number was a toe-tapper and the cast was dancing to please. Miranda and Ngaaje utilized all of their dancers in every scene and uniquely used the aisles as additional entrances and exits to the stage. Make sure to pay attention especially if you're in the front row because you may miss what's going on behind you like I did.
If you're an ABBA lover then enjoy this season of fresh MAMMA MIA performances at North Texas Performing Arts Center through March 2nd. Getting to the Rodenbaugh Theatre can be confusing if you've never been to The Shops at Willow Bend. Just make sure to park on the second floor near the Chapel Hill entrance.
Tickets are available for purchase here.